South Africa v New Zealand, Port Elizabeth, August 20
Smith ruled out of World Cup
August 18, 2011
The influential Smith has lost his fitness battle ahead of next month's Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Springboks flanker Juan Smith has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup having failed to recover sufficiently from an Achilles tendon injury.
The 30-year-old World Cup winner, who picked up the injury during the Super Rugby season before undergoing surgery, was already set to miss Saturday's Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand and has now admitted defeat in his battle to be fit for the World Cup.
"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," commented Smith, who was looking forward to his third World Cup. "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."
Speaking to the Volksblad newspaper, he added, "I won't be able to give everything and realise I should put my team, team-mates and the Bok fans first. I must stop lying to myself - what I've been doing these last three weeks - and realise that I'm not ready."
Boks coach Peter de Villiers admitted the news was a huge blow to his side's preparations and revealed they had given him as long as possible to recover out of respect to "a great Springbok."
"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. "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."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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