Even the harshest critics of South African World Cup captain John Smit have to admit he takes criticism like a true warrior.
Dismissed as over the hill at 33 and rated only the fourth best hooker in the country, the man who led the Springboks to 2007 World Cup glory has never turned against his many critics.
"Playing for the Springboks means there is no easy ride, no escape and never a place to hide," he confessed.
"Captaining them means the scrutiny is even more intense. The rewards when things are going well are immense - the vitriol is as hectic when you don't play well and the team doesn't win."
There have been plenty of brickbats but few bouquets lately with supporters and the media almost unanimous in crowning Bismarck du Plessis 'king' of the South African hookers.
Smit and Du Plessis have been teammates at the Durban-based Sharks for several seasons and the latter has never publicly voiced unhappiness at his understudy role.
Sharks coach John Plumtree has also stayed silent on the subject while going against the wishes of Springbok handler Peter de Villiers by playing Du Plessis at hooker and Smit at tight-head prop.
Smit said he and other senior Springboks like lock and vice-captain Victor Matfield decided two years ago that there was sufficient gas in the tanks for another World Cup challenge.
The decision was based on the belief that no world champions have ever had as good a chance of being the first to successfully defend the Webb Ellis Cup.
"It has to be about the challenge, about doing something incredible, about creating history - this team is good enough to defend the title and I have a contribution to make.
"If we lose I want to be at the heart of the battle, not sitting in a corporate suite listening to people say that if I had been there it would have been different," said Smit.
While criticism of Smit stems from sluggishness about the field and erratic line-out throwing, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers considers his captain a "world star".
"John is an outstanding player and having him available is a great boost. History has shown that teams who do well at the World Cup have experienced and outstanding leadership."
Capped for the first time in 2000 and named captain four years later, Smit has also led the green and gold to glory in a Test series against the British and Irish Lions and a Tri-Nations title.
The only honour to elude the 1.88-metre, 115-kilogram Springbok was a 'grand slam' of tour victories over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
It will hurt him deeply that bloggers celebrated incorrect reports last weekend that he would miss the World Cup through injury as a "blessing".
"I put my trust in John," said De Villiers.
Columnist Archie Henderson insists: "Smit is attempting a World Cup too far."
The rugby battlefields of New Zealand will decide who is right.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.