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Smit so pleased for Saracens’ George

PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 June 2017

Saracens' Jamie George and Maro Itoje celebrate victory for the British & Irish Lions against Crusaders (pic David Davies/PA)

Saracens' Jamie George and Maro Itoje celebrate victory for the British & Irish Lions against Crusaders (pic David Davies/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Nobody has been more excited by the international success of Saracens’ Jamie George than his mentor, John Smit.

The former South Africa captain returns to Allianz Park on June 30 for the Worldwide Currencies Cup match in aid of Restart Rugby and #LiftTheWeight mental health awareness.

Hooker Smit played 46 times for Sarries after arriving in 2011, while also tasked with bringing through young players by former chief executive Ed Griffiths.

And George, 26, now has two Premiership and European Cup titles under his belt, made his England debut in 2015 and is on the verge of Test honours for the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand.

“I couldn’t have been prouder watching Jamie George and all he’s achieved for Saracens, England and the Lions,” said Smit. “Ed (Griffiths) wanted me to be a mentor for the hookers but I didn’t know how much talent he had until I arrived.

“He was so hungry for knowledge and so appreciative of all the time he spent learning. I was only a small part of his development but I loved every minute of it.”

George will be backed up by new singing Christopher Tolofua next term, while veteran Schalk Brits has extended his stay for another season.

“Schalk’s been playing such wonderful rugby and having that role where he plays 25-30 minutes off the bench could be the start of a whole new chapter for him,” added Smit.

Saracens celebrated a second successive European Cup win with a 28-17 victory over Clermont last month and only Toulon have won three in a row.

“To win back-to-back European titles is pretty special and Saracens is a special club,” added Smit.

“To have won the Premiership three years in a row and to have done a double double would have been great but you have to say well done to Exeter Chiefs.

“Why are Saracens special? When I was there everyone liked what we were doing, liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company on and off the pitch. It’s probably the only true rugby family I’ve been part of and that’s a key point of difference.”

The Worldwide Currencies Cup match kicks off the Sevens and the City sports and music festival curated by Matt Stevens and David Strettle. For tickets go to sevensandthecity.com.

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