Smit hopes South Africa will step it up'
DURBAN, South Africa // John Smit, the South Africa captain, will say an emotional farewell to Kings Park today when the Springboks play Australia in a Tri Nations Test.
Smit, 33, the world's most experienced international captain, who led South Africa to victory in the 2007 World Cup, will play his 105th and last Test at his home ground in Durban.
He is set to retire from internationals after his third World Cup next month.
And he is happy to welcome back some of his battle-hardened veterans, such as Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Fourie du Preez, against the Australians.
Matfield has also played more than 100 Tests, and Smit is banking on the experience of a host of other World Cup winners against the Wallabies as they search for a first win of the season to kick-start their World Cup run-in. Smit said his side was "one of the best" teams South Africa had fielded for some time.
"It's a pretty good team," Smit said. "Hopefully we'll be able to use those guys and step it up, and the experience they've gained, hopefully we can put it out on the field.
"It really has been fantastic [to have the senior players back]. We've created an amazing understanding between five or six of the guys in terms of what their responsibilities are on the field.
"It's hopefully going to slot back in to how it's been for the last five or six years."
The Springboks have picked a near full-strength team for today's game, with Schalk Burger, the injured flanker, arguably the only front-line player missing. It is the first run-out of 2011 for most of the Springboks' top stars after an injury-weakened squad lost heavily in Australia and New Zealand at the start of the Tri Nations.
Australia snapped a 47-year losing streak at South Africa's highveld venues when they beat the Boks in Bloemfontein last year and expectations are high today.
"World Cup aside, tomorrow's result is pretty critical for us," captain Rocky Elsom said yesterday. "We have expectations on ourselves and we would like to see them fulfilled. We have obviously got our game that we want to play and they will have theirs ... it comes down to us doing what we do well.
Published: August 13, 2011 04:00 AM