Juan: Thanks for the memories
The South African Rugby Union on Tuesday joined the chorus of praise for retired Springbok legend Juan Smith.
SARU thanked the 31-year-old Bok flank, Smith, for his services to the game and wished him well for his future, following his decision to retire on medical advice.
Smith played in 69 Tests for the Springboks.
He was part of the World Cup-winning squad in 2007, won the Tri-Nations (2009) and was a member of the Bok squad that overcame the British & Irish Lions in 2009.
In 2002, Smith was one of the stars of the South African Under-21 team that won the IRB Junior World Championship on home soil.
Smith also enjoyed success at provincial level with the Free State Cheetahs when they won the Currie Cup in 2005.
"This is a disappointing day for rugby as we see one of the greats of modern Springbok rugby go into retirement," said Oregan Hoskins, SARU President.
"Juan was a vital cog for every team in which he played and he will be sorely missed, not only by the Springboks, but also by the Cheetahs.
"As one of the hard men of South African rugby, Juan distinguished himself as someone that always put the team first. He wasn’t someone who looked for glory, but knew what was needed to get the job done. He never gave less than his very best.
"We wish Juan all the best for his future and hope to still see him involved in rugby in some way. Thank you for your great service to rugby in South Africa in the past 10 years."
Smith injured his Achilles in February 2011, the opening round of the Super Rugby season, and underwent four operations in the past two years to correct the problem.
Although he featured in two Super Rugby warm-up matches for the Cheetahs in the last fortnight, Smith made the decision to retire from all rugby with immediate effect on Monday.
Apart from his 69 Tests and two tour matches for South Africa, currently the 11th most by any Springbok, Smith also played in 41 matches for the Free State Cheetahs, 32 Super 12 matches for the Cats and 47 Super Rugby matches for the Cheetahs.
He played a total of 198 First Class matches throughout his career, which spanned 10 seasons.
Smith made his Test debut on 7 June 2003 against Scotland in Durban and played his last Test on 27 November 2010 against England at Twickenham.
He played in two Rugby World Cup tournaments (2003 and 2007) and was also nominated as the SA Rugby Player of the Year in those seasons.
What the Twitter world has to say:
Good luck to Juan Smith on his retirement, he was an inspiration and role model of a rugbyplayer, husband and man!! All of the best!!
— flip van der merwe (@flipvandermerwe) February 12, 2013
Ons groet n grote Juan Smith een van die hardste en EERLIKSTE spelers wat ek geken het lekker rus ou vriend na n BAIE suksesvolle loopbaan
— Bakkies Botha (@BakkiesBotha4) February 11, 2013
Juan Smith retires: He will be remembered as a Springbok legend and hard-man. Someone I respect and have learned so much from.God bless u!
— Pierre Spies (@Pierrespies8) February 11, 2013
Yes what a career sad to hear Juan has called it a day one of the unsung hero s who won us the World Cup .The Boks are going to miss him
— Rob Louw (@roblouw6) February 11, 2013
Sad to hear about Jean Smiths retirement .. Was looking forward to seeing him on the field in a coupla weeks #Free State and Bok Legend
— Jonathan Kaplan (@RefJK) February 11, 2013
Shame to see Juan Smith retiring due to injury. Super player.
— Stephen Moore (@stevemoore83) February 12, 2013