Smith opts out of Commonwealth Games to become a Springbok

Kwagga Smith Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Lions flank and Sevens sensation Kwagga Smith has opted out of the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast next month in order to concentrate on his bid to become a Springbok.

Smith, who won Gold at the Games with South Africa four years ago, has made the decision due to the long-term unavailability of Lions teammate Jaco Kriel, and his own desire to concentrate on the 15-man format.

"My goal for the next two years is to become a Springbok. I want to wear the green and gold in 15s, and for me to achieve that, I need to play as often as possible for the Lions," Smith told reporters.

"We've sat down and spoken about it. If Jaco was fit and ready to play, then it would have been OK for me to go to the Commonwealth Games. But it doesn't help if I go there and also get injured; that would hurt the Lions."

Smith, who won the man-of-the-match award in November after a top performance for the Barbarians against the All Blacks, says he has the blessing of Sevens coach Neil Powell.

Smith was sent-off in the Super Rugby final in 2017 as the Lions lost at home to the Crusaders, but has been widely praised for his 15-man form in the last 12 months.

"Neil knows what my goals are, and now that Jaco is out, I'm not going to be released for the Commonwealth Games. This is my decision; it makes sense.

"I want to be a Springbok. I already missed one game and don't want to miss more.

"I want to give myself the best chance I can to play for the Boks, and go to the World Cup, and that obviously means me playing as often as possible for the Lions."