James Small was a prolific try-scorer and one of the most controversial players in Springbok history. He won 47 caps for South Africa in all, 44 on the wing and three at fullback. The naturally gifted Small was also a promising football player but decided to pursue a career in rugby.
Small was renowned for his short temper which at times landed him in hot water on and off the pitch but there was no denying his natural abilities. He made his international debut against New Zealand in Johannesburg on August 15, 1992 and made his final appearance against Scotland in Edinburgh on December 6, 1997.
Small had scintillating pace as well as a big boot and was a stern defender. His attacking prowess saw him eclipse Danie Gerber’s then Springbok record of 19 tries. However, most significantly was Small’s famous marking of giant All Black winger Jonah Lomu in the 1995 World Cup final.
Lomu stampeded and bulldozed his way over defender after defender and scored a World Cup record seven tries in the lead up to the final including four in the semi-final against England. The 1.96m, 115kg juggernaut was deemed unstoppable but Small stuck to him like glue and marked him out of the game.
Small remained a key player for the Springboks and played in the first Test of the British & Irish Lions series of 1997 before he made his exit from the international scene after scoring a brace of tries in South Africa’s 68-10 drubbing of Scotland on the end-of-year tour. He continued playing provincially until 1999 when he decided to call time on his career.
Records/Honours:SA Player of the Year nominee, 1993Member of the World Cup winning Springbok squad, 1995Currie Cup winner with the Sharks, 1995 & 1996Top try-scorer in the Super 12, 1996Currie Cup winner with Western Province, 1997