Hong Kong, 9 June 2012
Former Springbok RWC-winning captain Saracens star John Smit says the quality of opposition in Saturday’s Chartis Cup clash in Hong Kong will mean a “pretty intense” game of rugby.
The English Premiership giants will take on a BGC APBs invitational team packed with World Cup aces, Super Rugby veterans and proven winners.
“The opposition is tougher than we would normally have expected for an off-season game, but that’s good, because if people come to an event like this they want to see two top teams playing each other,” said Smit.
“The side that the BGC APBs have put together is very good, so it’s two big teams going head to head and we’ll see a good game. Certainly, it will be a serious encounter.
“Everyone realises it is going to be pretty intense, you can see that from the level of players on both sides. For the younger guys in our team, when they go out there and see the likes of Mils Muliaina lining up against them, they’ll realise this is no festival, it’s a proper game of rugby.”
Saracens will take on the BGC APBs in the Chartis Cup at 6:00pm today (Saturday 9 June) at Hong Kong Stadium.
Apart from Muliaina – 100 caps for New Zealand and a World Cup winner last year – the BGC APBs have four other All Blacks in Jerry Collins, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Rico Gear and Troy Flavell.
Their other big names include Welsh heroes Shane Williams and Martyn Williams, England No.8 Nick Easter, Samoa centre Seilala Mapusua and former Japan captain Takuro Miuchi.
Smit – the 2007 World Cup-winning Springboks captain – will be part of a powerful Saracens team that includes three England internationals in club captain Steve Borthwick, Richard Wigglesworth and Hugh Vyvyan.
Saracens – who are making their first competitive appearance in Asia – will be hoping for better luck in Saturday’s charity game than on their first night in Hong Kong when they attended the famous Happy Valley races.
“Five or six of us clubbed together HK$100 each and put it all on the hot tip in the third race,” revealed Smit. “And guess what? Nothing! So the message is, horse racing still doesn’t pay!”
Smit, 34, retired from international rugby following last year’s World Cup as the most-capped player in South Africa’s history with 111 appearances, including 64 as captain.
He then relocated to England to play for Saracens and has relished the experience. “It’s been good fun, the last eight or nine months have been really enjoyable,” he said. “What helps is that they’re a good bunch of lads and the team has done well. My wife and I have two young kids and they’ve settled in well so, hopefully, we’ll be staying for a while longer.”
Some images from the Saracens/APBs outing to Hong Kong: