Springboks: Kwagga Smith’s versatility is crucial to allow 6-2 split on bench

Dylan Coetzee

Kwagga Smith during the Springboks Press Conference at Palazo Hotel in Johannesburg on the 29 June 2022 © Sydney Mahlangu/Sports Inc

Springbok tyro Kwagga Smith is critical to allowing the South African side to field a 6-2 split on their bench and utilising their ‘bomb squad’.

Smith is a versatile player who is comfortable in most areas of the field owing to his sevens career, where he spent four years with the Blitzboks before transitioning to fifteens.


The 29-year-old began his fifteens career with the Lions, where coach Johan Ackermann saw the potential for Smith’s versatility to allow an extra forward to be selected on the bench.

“It started a long time ago with coach Johan Ackermann,” Smith said.

“He went with a 6-2 split also and then I was also the back-up there if something happened to the backs at the Lions.

“I don’t focus on that, the chances of it happening are there but they are slim. For me, it is just to focus on my game.

“When that opportunity comes, I will take it. The backs that I will be playing with have quite a lot of experience and they will help me a lot in that process to just slot in and do my best.”

Smith claimed playing against the British and Irish Lions last year was a learning curve for him, particularly starting in the first Test.

“Last year, I really started building my game with the British & Irish Lions tour,” he added.

“It was great playing there and they were big games for me … I tried to build on those performances every weekend, but last year was good for me and I got a lot of exposure there when I started the first Test …”

First Test at Ellis Park

Having spent four years with the Lions, Ellis Park is a ground with great significance for the loose forward, who will play his first Test at the famous stadium on Saturday against the All Blacks.

“My fifteens career started at the Lions at Ellis Park, so for me being back there and being able to represent the Springboks, I haven’t done that,” he said.

“I have represented the Lions there a few times, so for me it is great to be back and to be able to play there again. I am from up here, so it is great to have the local support also behind you.

“It is a great place. I have good memories. We are really excited.”

Women’s rugby continues to grow in South Africa, having just received key sponsorship from First National Bank (FNB) this week, and the national team will now play against Spain at Ellis Park as a curtain raiser for the Springboks Test.

“For our Bok women it is a great opportunity to play at Ellis Park,” said Smith.

“There will be a lot of fans coming out and supporting them and getting the vibe up for the Test. I just want to encourage them to go out there, and give it your all. We know it is altitude, but just give your everything and keep working hard.”

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