As the extended training squad went through their paces during their first field session at the Wanderers Rugby Club in Johannesburg on Monday morning, Springbok assistant coach Franco Smith reiterated the need to put the Springboks first and praised the recent cooperation between the various Vodacom Super Rugby franchises.
The 41-man squad got together in Johannesburg on Sunday for the first of three training camps before the start of the international season. The Springboks start their 2017 season in June when they host France three times during the Castle Lager Incoming Tour.
On Sunday the 41 squad members, including five Young Guns, gathered in Johannesburg after a good weekend for South African Vodacom Super Rugby teams.
Following their flush-out session on Sunday afternoon all the players underwent medical check-ups and then attended a meeting to discuss the 2017 season.
Later on Monday afternoon, the players returned in two groups to a nearby gym, where first the forwards and then the backs continued with their strength and conditioning training. The following players did not participate in training on Monday because of injury: Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Lood de Jager, Jaco Kriel, Rudy Paige, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Sergeal Petersen, Damian de Allende and Jean-Luc du Plessis.
Speaking to a large media contingent after the morning training session, Smith reiterated the benefit of holding three camps before the start of the international season.
Smith was drafted into the Springbok coaching staff for the European tour last November and he was last week confirmed as the Springbok backline and attack coach, whilst continuing in his role as Toyota Cheetahs head coach.
The former Springbok backline player said: “It’s an unbelievable honour to be involved with the Springboks in this capacity, but I know that honour comes a huge responsibility.”
Regarding his dual role with the Boks and his franchise team, Smith said: “Personally, it will be an interesting challenge but it is not something that is unique because it has be done before (at Bok level) while some of the other international teams are doing the same currently.
“The fact that I will be in the frontline, coaching throughout the year, will be of benefit to me though and will no doubt help me to grow as a coach,” said Smith.
According to Smith, the benefits of the recent coaching indabas are already noticeable.
“The cooperation (between franchise and Springbok coaches) that we saw during those meetings is something that we can be proud of. As a franchise coach myself, we all know the national team comes first and we want to contribute towards the success of the Springboks,” explained Smith.
Emirates Lions players left the camp on Monday afternoon as they are due to fly to Argentina on Tuesday for their Vodacom Super Rugby fixture against the Jaguares, while the rest of the players will return to their different home provinces on Tuesday. The camp ends with a closed training session on Tuesday morning.