The Mercury

Kwagga’s dream comes true


KWAGGA Smith will add another major global showpiece to his bucket list after he was named in the Springbok squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan starting next month.

There were doubts whether the popular Lions loose forward would make the final 31-man squad after Bok coach Rassie Erasmus whittled his group down to 32 players last week.

It seemed to be a race between Smith and utility forward Rynhardt Elstadt, who offered something different to the former Blitzbok.

But Smith edged out Estadt to make the team where he will add the World Cup to his appearance­s at the Olympics and Commonweal­th Games.

“For me, it is an honour to be part of the squad, it is a thing everyone works for, and not all of us can get it,” Smith said.

“This has been a dream since I was a schoolboy, the Sevens was a dream, the Olympics and the Commonweal­th was also a dream. It is just awesome to make it to this part because it is the ultimate dream in 15-man rugby.”

Smith was one of the top players in this year’s Super Rugby competitio­n, forcing his way back into the Bok fold after his maiden showing in last year’s Test against Wales in Washington DC.

“It was bad for me to play just one Test… I don’t see myself as a Springbok if I play only one Test,” Smith said.

“I want people to talk about me as a Springbok. It was just awesome that coach Rassie gave me a chance to play again.”

He made his return for the Boks against the All Blacks in Wellington and in the Test against Argentina in Salta where they clinched the Rugby Championsh­ip earlier this month.

Erasmus said the fact that Smith was a local-based player counted in his favour, while his stint with Japanese club Yamaha Jubilo also helped.

“We had an eye on local players first, and Kwagga was a guy that put up his hand throughout Super Rugby playing No 6 or eight playing consistent­ly against quality Australian and New Zealand teams,” Erasmus said.

“When he got his chance for the Springboks he never disappoint­ed.”

 ?? BACKPAGEPI­X ?? KWAGGA SMITH says it is an honour to be part of the Bok World Cup squad. |
BACKPAGEPI­X KWAGGA SMITH says it is an honour to be part of the Bok World Cup squad. |

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