O brother! Twins prop up Reds’ scrum
PLAYING for the Queensland Reds together was a world away when twins JP and Ruan Smith were packing into scrums in Cape Town and Canberra two years ago.
It was a long-held dream for the South African-born props who finished school at Toowoomba Grammar and played club footy for GPS before grabbing their Super Rugby breaks elsewhere.
It took scrum-loving Reds coach Brad Thorn to decide there was only one thing better than one Smith dominating at prop.
Answer: Signing two.
"One hundred per cent we didn't think we'd realise that dream, not when I was at the Stormers and Ruan was at the Brumbies (in 2016)," JP said.
"It's come true and it's very emotional not just for us but our family.
"Mum and Dad have been Reds members since 2006 and every year they take the same seats to watch the games."
Reserve JP Smith's sudden impact has come as a surprise because back-up props normally blend in rather than burst out of broken opposition scrums with a roar.
Smith, starting loosehead prop James Slipper and destructive tighthead Taniela Tupou have been at the heart of the 10 scrum penalties earned by the Reds in back-to-back wins.
That landslide authority won't exist in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning (Qld time) when every centimetre will be hard won against the Jaguares and their scrum-savvy pack.
Smith's positive progress coincided with Ruan wanting to head home to Brisbane, after a pre-season with Japan's Sunwolves, to be closer to their ill mother Elize.
The second Smith signing happened so swiftly even Reds squad mates didn't realise when they filed into a recent training session at the PCYC Lang Park gym.
"A few boys, especially Lukhan Tui, couldn't work out how they were greeting me on one side of the gym and saying hello to me on the other side as well," JP said with a laugh.
Adding the combined experience of 80-plus Super Rugby games to the inexperienced Reds squad is one big plus from the 28-year-old twins.
"Having a good game or two is okay but backing it up is the big challenge for the scrum and the pack in general," JP said.
Ruan has yet to break into the match day 23 but his appetite for it is there judging by the twins devouring a platter of three steaks, blood sausage, pork and empanadas at the famed La Cabrera restaurant in Buenos Aires this week.
Thorn is set on continuing his super-sized approach in the centres through Samu Kerevi and Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Kerevi's 148 running metres in last Friday's win over the Bulls also came with two of the biggest tackles of his career from inside centre to channel Thorn's defensive standards.