Smit keeps captaincy
John Smit has been named as South Africa captain for the 2011 season, including their rugby World Cup title defence.
Last Updated: 02/05/11 1:46pm
Long-serving skipper John Smit has been named as South Africa captain for the 2011 season, including their World Cup title defence.
The hooker's recent form - and the rise to prominence of rival Bismarck du Plessis - had fuelled speculation that he could be replaced.
Bulls captain Victor Matfield was the touted alternative for Smit, but Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has stuck by the long-serving skipper, who has captained his country in 76 of his 102 international appearances.
Matfield, the most capped Springbok with 105 Tests who has also captained South Africa on 15 occasions in Smit's absence, has instead been named vice-captain.
Speaking after a 51-man provisional World Cup squad completed the first in a series of team planning sessions, De Villiers said: "John and Victor have so much experience and we're lucky to be able to name them as captain and vice captain.
"To have both still available in a Rugby World Cup year is a great boost.
"History has shown that those teams who do well at World Cups have experience and outstanding leadership and we've learnt that you throw away that experience at your peril."
Smit said in a statement: "The responsibility comes with a great deal of pressure and expectation but it never loses the thrill or the sense of privilege that comes with it."
Smit, 33, led the Springboks to the 2007 World Cup title and has been skipper since first being given the job on a full-time basis by former coach Jake White in early 2004.