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Smit calls for home support

Fotopress

<a href="http://www.sportal.co.nz" target="_blank">sportal.co.nz</a>     01 Sep 2006     Fotopress

He said the slump that has seen the side lose five games in a row is 'merely temporary'.

"We have shown, during the past two seasons, which heights we are capable of reaching. We'll be back," he told Supersport.co.za.

Smit added, "The most frustrating aspect of our struggle in the Tri Nations competition is that we all know we are capable of much better.

"Our most important task this weekend is to play the kind of rugby that made us so successful for two years.

"In this, I have an important task because it is expected of me, as captain, to bring out the best in every player."

Smit said it wasn't just a matter of South Africa being able to play better, it had to.

Having been the target of booing by South African supporters in Pretoria last weekend, Smit said he understood their disappointment.

But he added, "If they feel only half of what we as players feel for the Springbok jersey, it must be heart-breaking to see the national team lose week after week."

Coach Jake White offered similar thoughts when saying speculation in the media about his future as coach, and who might be the next coach, only added to the concentration of the players for the Test match.

"I can't expect the players to remain focused if my body language does not reflect the same. The players look up to me as their source of inspiration.

"Our present situation has brought us to a huge challenge. One's character is not being tested when things go well."

He repeated an earlier observation that was made by former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh.

"He said that to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain, one should know what it feels like down in the valley.

"We are going through a very difficult time but if there is one thing that I have learnt from my mentors it is to stay true to what you believe in. That belief will bring you back to your feet again," he said.

White has made five changes to his side for the Test with the most notable exclusion being fullback Percy Montgomery. Also out of the starting XV are: No.8 Jacques Cronje, first five-eighth Butch James, flanker Solly Tyibilika and prop CJ van der Linde.

Replacing them are: Jaque Fourie (fullback), AJ Venter (No.8), Andre Pretorius (first five-eighths), Pedrie Wannenburg (flank), BJ Botha (prop). Waynand Olivier moves into Jaque Fourie's place at centre as Fourie moves back to fullback.