Smit: British & Irish Lions battle most tense of my career

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Quintin van Jaarsveld

Former Springbok captain John Smit says the opening Test of the 2009 British & Irish Lions series was the most nerve-racking clash of his record-breaking career.

Smit was in conversation with former foe turned friend, ex-England and British & Irish Lions prop Jason Leonard, in the second edition of the South African Rugby Legends Association’s #RugbyUnites Webinar Series on Tuesday evening.

Smit, who captained the Springboks in 83 of his 111 Tests and led them to a second World Cup title in France in 2007, says the legacy of the Lions, who only visit South African shores once every 12 years, makes them rivals unlike any other.

“The World Cup comes around every four years and if you’re lucky, you might play in one, maybe two, some three, four, five, but some of the greatest Springboks that have ever lived never got an opportunity to play against the Lions.

“That responsibility and hype added to what I found an extreme pressure,” said Smit.

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