New Zealand v South Africa, Tri-Nations, Wellington, July 17
Smit slams Botha ego
July 13, 2010

Springbok skipper John Smit has broken ranks to criticise Bakkies Botha in the wake of the lock's nine-week ban for headbutting All Black Jimmy Cowan.

Botha will miss the remainder of the Tri-Nations thanks to the suspension, picked up during his side's 32-12 loss to the All Blacks last weekend, and Smit has backed the decision, slamming Botha's ego.

"The fact of the matter is that in a team sport, you can't afford to have too many big egos. If you have one that is outside the team ethos, it hurts a team," Smit said. "It was probably the least penalties we've conceded in a long period of time but all you remember is one act of silliness. It's been dealt with, thankfully. I think it's just reward for silly behaviour."

Smit's comments were at odds with those of his coach, Peter De Villiers, who defended Botha as having been provoked by Cowan's holding him back as they chased a loose ball.

"TV took over the game too much," he said. "What happened before that? Nobody ever saw that on TV, how they pulled him back without the ball. If that penalty were made, nothing else would have happened."

All Black skipper Richie McCaw remained unfazed by the issue, insisting that flashpoints such as the headbutt were often an indicator of pressure on the opposition.

"It's pretty simple really. If you're going to put your team in trouble from doing something stupid well you're wasting your time," he said. "I don't get angry out on the field. You're competitive and just get on and do the next job. I find if there's anything like that it's usually because you've got them under pressure. That's the way I look at it."


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