Kwagga’s return good news amid injuries and suspension

Kwagga Smith. | BackpagePix

Kwagga Smith. | BackpagePix

Published May 28, 2024


Mike Greenaway

Kwagga Smith, the epitome of the unstoppable Springbok Bomb Squad, has declared himself fit to play against Ireland in July and that will be sweet music to the ears of Rassie Erasmus.

The Springbok coach has a growing list of players unavailable due to injury and suspension, so it is heartening news that Smith is back after five months on the sidelines for his Japanese club Shizuoka Blue Revs.

The 30-year-old loose forward had surgery for a groin injury in January and has not played since. The Japanese season ended at the weekend and that means Smith will be ring-rusty before the two-match series against the Irish but Erasmus will no doubt make a plan to get him ready.

Smith can cover No 8 and this is a position where the Boks are vulnerable because of the retirement of Duane Vermeulen and the recent suspension of Jasper Wiese.

The latter was suspended for six matches after being red-carded for dumping an opposition player head-first into the ground when playing for Leicester in the last game of the English Premiership a week ago.

Because Leicester are not involved in the Premiership play-offs, Wiese’s suspension carries over into the Springbok calendar.

On the subject of the end of the season in Japan, an unfortunate sight was Lood de Jager limping off before half-time in the League One final between Toshiba Brave Lupus and the Wild Knights on Sunday.

De Jager’s Wild Knights lost 24-20 to Brave Lupus after going through to the final unbeaten. De Jager missed last year’s World Cup because of injury and he had hoped to make a comeback for the Boks against Ireland.

The Boks are well stocked with locks but Erasmus would have welcomed De Jager back into the fold as he remains arguably the team’s first-choice No 5.

Another Bok lock, although one on the fringes, Jason Jenkins, was injured playing for Leinster in the Champions Cup against Toulouse. He left the field in some pain and that will worry the Sharks, who have signed Jenkins for the new season.

De Jager was ruled out of the last World Cup because of a heart issue but has played regularly for the Wild Knights.

Meanwhile, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was honoured as Player of the Year at the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Sports Awards in Lusaka on Saturday in Lusaka. The Boks also won the Team of Year award.

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