Smit fears for the future
Springboks skipper worrying Botha ban could end all physicality
Last Updated: 03/07/09 2:13pm
Smit: Physical presence
South Africa captain John Smit fears Bakkies Botha's ban could set an unwanted precedent in the game.
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"I hope and pray it's just a case of Bakkies being victimised. If it's not, then it could change this wonderful game we play."
John Smit Quotes of the week
The Springboks lock was handed a two-week suspension for a dangerous charge on Lions prop Adam Jones in the second Test on Saturday, which left the Welshman with a dislocated shoulder.
An appeal against the decision proved unsuccessful and Botha will miss the final Test of the series on Saturday as a consequence.
But Smit, who captained South Africa to World Cup glory in 2007, hopes it is not a sign of things to come.
"We are deeply saddened and angered more than anything else by the outcome of the Bakkies Botha appeal," Smit said.
"I hope and pray it's just a case of Bakkies being victimised. If it's not, then it could change this wonderful game we play.
"Sanity did not prevail at the appeal and I've had referees phoning me, and support from the Lions management and players saying that it is very concerning for the future of the game.
"Unfortunately Adam Jones got injured purely because his arm was stuck in the ruck. If Bryan Habana is running down the wing as fast as a cheetah, it would be really poor for the game to make him slow down in case he hurts the tackler."
Smit also hopes there is no residual anger in the Lions camp following Springboks flanker's Schalk Burger eye gouging, for which he has received an eight-week ban, and admits the tourists are the envy of the rugby world.
"I sincerely hope there's no bad blood between the two teams. Rugby's all about running into each other at a million miles an hour and tackling each other at a million miles an hour, stitching oneself up afterwards and sharing a beer," Smit said.
"The challenge the Lions face is far greater than any other team we face because they have a limited amount of time to gel.
"They spend the Six Nations smashing each other and then they have to come together and create a brotherhood.
"They've created that camaraderie on this tour and I think the Lions are really envied by other teams."
The Lions will play their final match of the tour against the world champions in Johannesburg on Saturday, as they look for a consolation victory having already lost the series.