But South African Rugby Football Union, and their coach Peter de Villiers, moved swiftly to keep their overseas stars in touch with the national squad and last weekend Smit led his country for the 50th time in their win over Wales in Bloemfontein.
More than that, Smit has now curtailed his contract in France and will be back in South Africa on a full-time basis from next month. That heightened speculation about which team he would join, but it now looks as though his former team, the Sharks, will reclaim him.
"We're currently in negotiations with his agent and we're working through a number of issues before an agreement can be reached. If we can achieve that, the deal should be done by the middle of next week," Sharks chief executive Brian van Zyl told the keo.co.za website.
Western Province and the Bulls were believed to have been in the race for Smit's signature, but it was always likely he would return to the side he led into the 2007 Super 14 final.
The Sharks are due to meet the Lions ahead of the three match Test series next summer - a series into which Smit looks almost certain to captain the reigning world champions.