Smit confident after Lions win
Springboks skipper positive ahead of All Blacks clash
Last Updated: 22/07/09 5:28pm
Smit: victory over Lions
South Africa captain John Smit believes beating the British and Irish Lions last month was the best possible way to prepare for the Tri-Nations.
The Springboks are the favourites for the competition ahead of their opening match against New Zealand on Saturday thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 series victory over the Lions.
And, after failing to win the competition since 2004, Smit believes that getting the better of the all-star Lions will give the Springboks a major boost this time around.
"I think the benefit lies in the fact that in the British and Irish Lions we faced the best of the teams combined that we normally face in the June Tests ahead of the Tri-Nations," he said.
"If one thinks of the teams that come here at this time of the year, we had good preparation as we beat a Lions team at full strength.
"So the three tough Tests we had against them have ensured that our preparations this year have been the best yet for the Tri-Nations."
He added: "I believe we are good enough to compete in this competition and have a crack at it.
"We haven't won the Tri-Nations trophy for a while. I think we have chosen a strong team that is good enough to compete properly this year."
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers faced some difficult decisions as he selected his starting XV to face the All Blacks on Saturday, with Adi Jacobs and Schalk Burger unavailable and strong competition at fly-half.
Jaque Fourie came in for the injured Jacobs and Heinrich Brussow replaced the suspended Schalk Burger, while fly-half Ruan Pienaar was chosen in favour of Morne Steyn.
But while there were many difficult choices to make, Smit believes any coach would love to have that kind of selection problem.
"Long may that problem last," he added. "It's simply a wonderful position to be in and I think we are blessed from a South African point of view with the kind of talent that we have at our disposal.
"So it's a good 22 and the guys have a lot of confidence in each other and certainly we will try and make sure that we can follow through with all of that on Saturday."