Veteran Springbok World Cup winner Juan Smith, who has decided to take the entire year off, will decide in November if he will return to the playing field or retire permanently.
The 30-year-old Smith, who has not played since he tore his Achilles in the early stages of a match against the Bulls in the opening match of the Super Rugby season on 25 February 2011, revealed that he was “taking a complete break” from the game.
The 69-Test veteran – who not only missed the entire 2011 Super Rugby season, the Tri-Nations and the 2011 World Cup – has undergone surgery four times since last year’s setback.
He is hoping that by stepping away from the game – by not training or playing for the entire year – he will finally overcome the problem that is threatening to bring a premature end to his glittering career.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie told this website in an interview that Smith will “make a call on the way forward” in November.
“He was in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup, then for [this year's] Super Rugby [season] and now [to start playing] once we returned from the [Australasian] tour,” Fourie said.
“Every time he pushed himself too hard and too early and every time he aggravated the injury again.
“It is a tough decision [to take the rest of the year off], but it is a wise and correct decision,” Fourie told this website, adding that Smith will decide in November what the future holds for him.
Smith, who was appointed captain of the Cheetahs before the latest setback, played the last of his 69 Tests against England at Twickenham in November 2010.
He also has 79 Super Rugby caps to his credit and is a multiple Currie Cup winner with the Free State team.
* Meanwhile the Cheetahs look set to lose rookie flyhalf Johan Goosen for this coming weekend’s Round Eight Super Rugby encounter with New Zealand leading franchise, the Chiefs.
The Cheetahs’ assistant, Fourie, told this website that they will make a call on the 19-year-old No.10 “later in the week”.
“The shoulder injury appears to be more serious than we anticipated,” Fourie said of the AC joint he damaged in a tackle in the 26-5 win over the Lions last Saturday, a tackle for which Lions pivot Elton Jantjies was issued an off-field yellow card.
Fourie said they will “leave it as late as possible” and probably only make a call on Goosen by Friday.
Sias Ebersohn is likely to step into the flyhalf position if Goosen is ruled out.
Fourie added that there are a few “niggles” as a result of the encounter with the Lions, but he expects the rest of the players to be fit to play against the Chiefs.