The man who led South Africa to a series victory over the Lions two summers ago has been voted the greatest Springbok of all time.
John Smit guided the Boks to a 2-1 series triumph over Britain and Ireland’s elite in 2009, two years after he lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy in Paris.
And now Smit, who should be at the helm when South Africa attempt to retain their World Cup crown in New Zealand this autumn, has been handed the ultimate accolade by Sports Illustrated SA and their readers.
A panel from the magazine came up with a list of their top Springboks and then offered their readers the chance to cast their own votes.
The result was a list of 100 star South Africans printed in the July edition of the magazine, with Smit leading the poll.
Frik du Preez, Os du Randt, Victor Matfield and Naas Botha complete the top five, with Danie Gerber, Percy Montgomery, Joost van der Westhuizen, André Joubert and Mark Andrews the others in the top 10.
And while the choice of Smit above the likes of du Preez, Gerber and Botha may come as a surprise to some, former national captains Francois Pienaar and Corne Krige have both lent their backing to the decision.
“He led the side in difficult years and worked wonders. He deserves it,” said Pienaar, who lifted the World Cup 12 years before Smit and is 12th on the list.
“He holds the Springbok records for most capped captain and has won the World Cup outside of South Africa. He deserves it,” added Krige in the Cape Times.