South Africa lose flanker Juan Smith for World Cup

Juan Smith
Flanker Juan Smith has won 69 caps for South Africa

South Africa flanker Juan Smith has ruled himself out of the World Cup after failing to recover fully from an Achilles injury.

The 30-year-old, who has won 69 caps, had surgery in February but has struggled to regain full fitness and faces another operation.

The Springboks face Wales on 11 September in their World Cup Pool D opener in Wellington.

"I am not 100%. I won't be able to give everything," Smith told the Volksblad.

"I should put my team, team-mates and the Bok fans first.

"I must stop lying to myself - what I've been doing these last three weeks - and realise that I'm not ready."

Smith was part of the Springbok side that won the 2007 World Cup in France and would have been a certain starter for this year's tournament.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said: "Juan had been in a race against time to be fit and we were keen to give him every opportunity to prove himself available.

"He is understandably very disappointed - as are we - but he has made the right decision. A fully fit Juan Smith would have been an enormous asset to our campaign and this is a major disappointment.

"But it was obvious that he was still some way from full fitness and his decision confirms the advice of our medical team. Out of respect for a great Springbok, we wanted to leave the door open until the last moment for him."

Better news for De Villiers is that the elbow injury suffered by captain John Smit is not serious, after weekend reports suggested it could rule the hooker out of the World Cup.

South Africa and Wales also face Fiji, Samoa and Namibia in their pool.