Springboks receive timely back row boost ahead of Ireland series

Jared Wright
Springboks flanker Kwagga Smith celebrates and thanks the fans after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup final.

Springboks flanker Kwagga Smith celebrates and thanks the fans after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup final.

Double Rugby World Cup-winning back-rower Kwagga Smith is set to be fit for the Springboks two Test matches against Ireland in July.

Smith hasn’t played since January after suffering an adductor tendon rupture while playing for the Shizuoka Blue Revs in the Japan Rugby League One season.

Kwagga Smith ready for Ireland

The injury ended his Japanese season but Smith says he will be ready to go for the Springboks if called upon for the first Test against Ireland.

“I’m back in South Africa and definitely ready for the [Irish] tests,” the 30-year-old told Afrikaans newspaper Rapport.

“I trained 100% comfortably with my team in Japan a month ago.”

Initially, his club predicted a five-month recovery period, and it seems that Smith is on track to meet this timeline.

It’s not clear if he will be fit in time to face Wales at Twickenham Stadium on June 22, which he will be eligible for with the Japanese clubs allowing their internationals to feature in the match.

However, his return to full fitness is a boost for the series against Ireland, particularly after Jasper Wiese’s ban following his red card in his final Leicester Tigers appearance.

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Wiese has been handed a six-match ban and with Leicester not qualifying for the Premiership semi-finals, he will serve out his suspension in the international season.

With Wiese banned, Smith is one of the options head coach Rassie Erasmus could turn to, to fill the number eight slot as he has featured in the role multiple times off the bench and has started at number eight on three occasions in Tests.

The 40-Test back-rower shone off the bench for the Springboks in 2023 and won more breakdown and jackal turnovers than any other player in club and international rugby last year.

The news that Smith will be fit for the series comes as good news for the Springboks, with Damian Willemse and Steven Kitshoff’s injuries set to see them miss the two internationals along with Wiese.

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