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September 12, 2009

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Boks' Smith stays clear of referee barbs

SOUTH Africa captain John Smith, like most tight forwards, was able to produce a delicate sidestep yesterday when asked about his coach's controversial comments about referees earlier in the week.

"I don't think we've ever seen a player play the perfect game, not miss a kick, not miss a throw, have a game full of good scrums and the same can be said of referees," Smit told reporters ahead of the Tri-Nations clash with the All Blacks at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton today.

"They've got a pretty stern challenge. The important thing to know is that we wouldn't be able to do what we do if it wasn't for their application and their passion to do what they do."

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers had claimed after his side lost to Australia 6-21 last week that the Springboks were being unfairly targeted by referees because of their status as the world's best team. He said it was a "complete waste of time" consulting referees before test matches for clarification of rules.

The New Zealand Herald reported that International Rugby Board referees boss Paddy O'Brien had offered to meet with de Villiers and New Zealand coach Graham Henry to discuss any concerns, though de Villiers had turned him down.

"It's always going to be a contentious issue because he (referee) is always letting one country down in a test match," Smit added. "I think last week we played badly and the result was relevant because of how we played. This week we'll have a referee that we've had before and the result I don't think will depend on how he blows, it will depend on how we rock up."


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