Looseforward Juan Smith will not be considered for the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad because of injury. Smith made the decision to rule himself out of contention on Wednesday and informed Springbok coach Peter de Villiers.
“Juan had been in a race against time to be fit and we were keen to give him every opportunity to prove himself available,” said de Villiers on Thursday.
“He is understandably very disappointed – as are we – but he has made the right decision. A fully fit Juan Smith would have been an enormous asset to our campaign and he this is a major disappointment.
“But it was obvious that he was still some way from full fitness and his decision confirms the advice of our medical team. Out of respect for a great Springbok, we wanted to leave the door open until the last moment for him.”
The 69-Test veteran injured his Achilles in a Vodacom Super Rugby match for the Toyota Cheetahs in February.
Smith said: “I’ve worked very hard to get back on the training field but I’m still some way from full fitness and have been training with quite a lot of pain. I’d been trying to tell myself that I’d come right but that wasn’t going to happen.
“This is a huge blow to me. The Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle of any player’s career and I was looking forward to our attempt to become the first team to win the title in successive tournaments.”
The Springbok Rugby World Cup squad will be announced live on SuperSport 1 from 19h30 on Tuesday, August 23.