Smith devastated by early retirement

Springbok Juan Smith (R) powers his way past British and Irish Lions's Stephen Jones during the Final Rugby Test in Johannesburg at Ellis Park Stadium on July 4, 2009. Picture: AFP
CAPE TOWN - Retired Springbok flank Juan Smith on Friday told Eyewitness News Sport of the sad and frustrating run of injuries that brought about the premature end to his stellar rugby career.

He was forced to retire from the sport on Monday after an MRI scan confirmed irreparable damage to an Achilles problem that had plagued him for two years and required four operations.

He played 69 Tests for the Springboks.

Smith said that after a difficult week, he was coming to terms with being forced to end his career.

“The last thing I want to do now is to say it’s the doctor’s fault. However, I could see from the MRI on Monday that it wasn’t properly fixed during the first three operations. Like I said, it is water under the bridge, I need to deal with it.”

Smith said that at no point over the past two years has he felt confident of making a full return to the game.

“I must say, I was never happy with the last three operations that I had to do in Pretoria because I still had the consistent pain in my heel.”

Smith took some time out this week after making his decision public.

“It’s been a very emotional week for me, especially when I made the call on Monday. Rugby was a big part of my life for the past 10 years.”

Smith said that he always remained optimistic but on Monday, he finally had to face the harsh reality of retirement.

“I’m very disappointed especially after the two years of rehab. I had four operations and rehab. I was hoping for good news but that didn’t happen.”

He said after playing against the Bulls on Saturday, it was all over.

“On Sunday I could feel something was not 100 percent in my heel. I knew it was bad news especially after what I felt during the game.”