Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Smit aims for double triumph

John Smit says Sarries have 'built a huge amount of momentum over the last couple of months'

John Smit believes Saracens are fully equipped to maintain their quest for a domestic and European double this season.

The current Aviva Premiership leaders - they are guaranteed a home draw in next month's play-offs - face Heineken Cup semi-final opponents Toulon at Twickenham on Sunday.

"I think a year ago juggling two competitions would have been a challenge with the squad we had," Saracens hooker Smit said. "But what we've shown on numerous occasions this season is the ability of everyone in the squad getting chances throughout the campaign."

He added: "When you get knocked out of the Heineken Cup you say you are glad because you can focus on the Premiership, but we wanted to compete in both. At the moment, we still have that opportunity.

"It's to our advantage to have the squad we have, having used it in the correct way. I can tell you now that there are not too many guys in the Saracens squad feeling tired and not pumped for the next couple of weeks. We have built a huge amount of momentum over the last couple of months."

Smit, South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning captain, is nearing the end of a magnificent playing career that saw him win more than 100 Test caps and lead his country to a series victory over the British and Irish Lions.

The 35-year-old had agreed a one-year contract with Toulon, starting next term, but he will now hang up his boots instead and become chief executive of the Durban-based Sharks from July 1.

And Smit is ready to play his part during Saracens' run-in, which features Toulon this weekend, then Bath in a regular season Premiership game, a play-off clash, plus two possible finals - Heineken on May 18 and Premiership seven days later.

"You work so hard the entire season, and then it all comes down to one or two play-off games. That is where we are at," he said. "It would be foolish of us now to think the job is done. Everything that we've done and all the work that we've put in comes down to winning one 80 minutes at a time.

"I think we've been good over the season and we've treated every weekend as a final from the start of the season. It's an old cliche, but we remind ourselves of it every time. And with European rugby and big games and top-of-the-table clashes, we remind ourselves that the only thing that's important is the next one. At the moment, that is our semi-final against Toulon."