Legendary Matfield to captain Springboks

Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks when they face Argentina in the Bronze Final on Friday, 30 October. - Image by © Paul Cunningham/Corbis
Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks when they face Argentina in the Bronze Final on Friday, 30 October. - Image by © Paul Cunningham/Corbis

Victor Matfield will lead the Springboks into battle in his final test in the green and gold as they head into the Rugby World Cup Bronze medal match against Argentina in London on Friday.

Matfield will play in his 127th test as he ends a long and illustrious career after Fourie du Preez failed to recover from a knock to his cheekbone that has left him with headaches and a black eye in the semifinal loss against New Zealand on Saturday.

Coach Heyneke Meyer resisted the temptation to play a lot of the fringe players, giving an extra vote of confidence to pretty much the same side that went down against the All Blacks to show their mental fortitude and ensure they don’t lose to Los Pumas twice in a season.

 

Ruan Pienaar will replace Du Preez at scrumhalf, with Rudy Paige coming onto the bench for the match while Lood de Jager drops down to the bench to make place for Matfield.

Meyer’s future is very much on the line with a promised review on the way whether or not to renew his contract for another four years, giving the match even more importance.

If the Boks win it will probably be enough to keep him in the job while he may have a problem if they do lose to Argentina for the second time in the same year.

“The temptation was there to play some fresh guys but I think people understood me wrong when I spoke about the 3rd/4th playoff. If you accept that, you will never be a winner. It has never been like South Africa to compete for third or fourth and be happy about it,” Meyer explained.

 

“When you are South African and a Springbok only the best will be good enough. But saying that, whenever you put a Bok jersey on, even if it is a friendly, you are still representing your country, you are still representing the hopes and dreams of your country, so it is a great responsibility. I can’t say in words what it means to be the Springbok coach.

“In a sense you know there are a lot of guys at the end of their career who could have played. I just felt it is such an important game, there is such a short turnaround and I have to get the guys up after last week. We have had just one training session and I had to think about the team first and obviously we have to go out there and win.”

Meyer said the Argentinean team deserved a lot of credit for the way they had played under Daniel Horcado and would be tough opposition.

“They are a quality side as they showed at the beginning of the year. I’ve said it a number of times – they have improved as a nation and they are in the top four now,” Meyer explained.

“They had a good game against the All Blacks last week and have beaten us and the Wallabies this year. They are a really tough side, and if we are not at our best it will be a difficult day.”

“We thought that it would be easier, as we have been struggling with continuity, to give these guys another go to show how mentally tough they are to bounce back from last week.

The Boks will move to London to be closer to the Olympic Stadium on Friday.

Springbok team:

Backs

15. Willie le Roux, Toyota Cheetahs (33 caps, 45 points)
14. JP Pietersen, Cell C Sharks (65 caps, 110 points)
13. Jesse Kriel, Vodacom Bulls (10 caps, 15 points)
12. Damian De Allende, DHL Stormers (12 caps, 5 points)
11. Bryan Habana, Toulon (116 caps, 320 points)
10. Handré Pollard, Vodacom Bulls (19 caps, 174 points)
9. Ruan Pienaar, Ulster (87 caps, 135 points)

Forwards

8. Duane Vermeulen, DHL Stormers (34 caps, 10 points)
7. Schalk Burger, DHL Stormers (85 caps, 80 points)
6. Francois Louw, Bath (42 caps, 40 points)
5. Victor Matfield, (captain) Vodacom Bulls (126 caps, 35 points)
4. Eben Etzebeth, DHL Stormers (43 caps, 5 points)
3. Frans Malherbe, DHL Stormers (11 caps, 0 points)
2. Bismarck du Plessis, Cell C Sharks (78 caps, 55 points)
1. Tendai Mtawarira, Cell C Sharks (74 caps, 10 points)

Replacements:
16. Adriaan Strauss, Vodacom Bulls (53 caps, 30 points)
17. Trevor Nyakane, Vodacom Bulls (22 caps, 5 points)
18. Jannie du Plessis, Cell C Sharks (69 caps, 5 points)
19. Lood de Jager, Toyota Cheetahs (18 caps, 20 points)
20. Willem Alberts, Cell C Sharks (37 caps, 35 points)
21. Rudy Paige, Vodacom Bulls (1 cap, 0 points)
22. Pat Lambie, Cell C Sharks (49 caps, 134 points)
23. Jan Serfontein, Vodacom Bulls (25 caps, 10 points)

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