England's SA-born players can expect 'special attention'

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International buzz returns - Smit

Former Springbok captain John Smit has warned England's South African-born players to expect extra scrutiny during their upcoming tour.

The two sides will contest a three-match Test series in June.

"They will certainly get special attention. The media will be all over them when they arrive," said 111-times capped forward Smit.

"I suppose it's a little bit spicier now they're playing against the country they were born in."

Matt Stevens, Brad Barritt and Mouritz Botha were all born in South Africa - and are Smit's Saracens team-mates - but chose to ply their international careers with England.

Stevens and Barritt qualify through English relations, while Botha has taken advantage of the residency rule, which allows a player to represent a country after living there for three successive years.

"It's always a contentious issue. There's far too much made of it," said hooker Smit, who will skipper the Barbarians against England on Sunday.

"But at the end of the day they've made their decisions and they've done really well to work themselves into an international team.

"It's something that adds to making rugby union more exciting. They'll get some special attention on game day. But it will all dissipate once the first week's out of the way."

Hooker Smit retired from Springbok duty following last year's World Cup and remains his country's most capped player.

He was born in Durban, the location for the first Test between South Africa and England, and has urged the tourists to take advantage of it being Heyneke Meyer's first game as Springbok coach.

"I think if England are ambitious, the first Test is one they need to capitalise on," he said.

"South Africa will only get better and better each week they spend with their new coach.

"Sadly they are going to Durban first, which will be the most comfortable of their entire stay.

"I would have quite liked them to be put into the darkest corners of South Africa for the first week or two.

"They will be at sea level, so they won't feel that burn or the taste of blood in the back of their throats after 20 minutes, which they will feel the next week in Johannesburg."

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