Home Sport ‘Springboks will give Italy the respect they deserve’, says Kwagga Smith

‘Springboks will give Italy the respect they deserve’, says Kwagga Smith

‘Springboks will give Italy the respect they deserve’, says Kwagga Smith

Springbok loose forward Kwagga Smith has warned that Italy’s win over the Wallabies last week is no flash in the pan and the Boks will give the Azzuri the respect they deserve in Genoa on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

“Italy have been building for some time under the coaching staff that was with Benetton (Kiwi Kieran Crowley and his assistants) and having teams in the United Rugby Championship has given their young players excellent exposure. The Italy age group teams have been very good in recent years and that talent is coming through now,” Smith said.

“Until now, Italy was a team where you could fall into the trap of not being properly prepared for them and then they shock you, but that time is over now after they backed up their Six Nations win over Wales by beating Australia.

“In fact, last week I thought Australia were lucky to score that last try to come back into that game. It is a wake-up call for us to know we have to play at our best to beat them.”

The Boks have suffered narrow losses to Ireland (19-16) and France (30-26) on successive weekends and they could have won both of those games but for calls going against them in the dying minutes, and Smith says the best way to deal with it is to take the closeness out of the games.

“It tends to be close margins against top-tier teams, but a good way to get on the right side of the scoreboard is to make sure there are not three or four points in it towards the end,” the experienced 29-yearold said.

“We are working hard to make sure we put these teams away by seven points or more so that it doesn’t come down to close calls at the end that can influence the result.

“There are small errors here and there that we can eliminate and it is about getting more efficient and what we do.

“Discipline, for example, is vital and we want to be the bestdisciplined team in world rugby so the opposition doesn’t get those opportunities to kick deep into our territory. We don’t want them entering our 22 …

“And then when we get into their 22, we have to get better at taking our opportunities quickly because at the moment we are burning a lot of energy going through the phases.”

When Smith was at Technical High School in Middleburg in 2009, his rugby hero was Heinrich Brussow, the pocket rocket flank who exploded into life against the British & Irish Lions that year.

Brussow came from nowhere to play an influential role in the Boks winning that series and Smith says he continues to model his game on Brussow’s energetic performances.

“It is all putting energy into the team,” he said.

“If I am starting, which was the case last year when Pieter-Steph du Toit was injured, then it is about giving the team a high-paced start, and if I am playing off the bench, it is about coming on and lifting the side.”


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