x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Smit accuses cry baby Lions

John Smit, the South Africa captain, has accused the British & Irish Lions of being bad sportsmen ahead of tomorrow's third Test between the two sides.

John Smit, the South Africa captain, has accused the British & Irish Lions of being bad sportsmen ahead of tomorrow's third Test between the two sides. South Africa's second Test victory in Pretoria last weekend clinched a series success against the tourists for the first time in 29 years, and Smit felt the visiting players had not been willing to get into the spirit of the game. "We have tried our best not to create any bad blood between the two teams, but that's all we have been dealt with," he said.

"We invited the Lions players to join us after every game no matter what the result. They declined, which was quite disappointing. "I've had one conversation with a Lions player in the six weeks they have been here, and that's Phil Vickery because I've known him a long time. "I haven't got to know any single one of the others, which is quite disappointing for me. This only happens once in 12 years and I want to have good memories.

"There's always going to be a winner and a loser, but sport is more than just that." Last week's game was marred by several incidents, with Schalk Burger banned for two months after an eye-gouging incident with Luke Fitzgerald, and Bakkies Botha was banned for two weeks after a dangerous challenge on Adam Jones that left the Welshman with a dislocated shoulder. "They challenged us to bring the physicality and when we did, they are now saying we were too physical and beyond the laws," said the Springboks captain. "But if there was any overstepping of the mark, from a physical point of view, it came from both sides.

"That's what Test matches are about. But there is no way our team can be regarded as the thugs they are made out to be because we have worked hard to clean up our reputation. "Sure we have got abrasive characters in our team, Bakkies, Bismarck du Plessis and Schalk, and those guys play hard every single time. "But we are a naturally-born physical race. The nature of the game is to run into people as hard as you can and tackle as hard as you can and that's why we enjoy the game."

akhan@thenational.ae See tomorrow's paper for John Smit's exclusive column