VICTOR MATFIELD HAS been named South Africa’s captain for their summer Tests against Wales, Scotland and a ‘World XV’ with regular skipper Jean de Villiers out injured.
The 37-year-old retired from the international game following the 2011 Rugby World Cup, where he had captained the Springboks. Matfield returned to rugby at the start of this year, when he signed a two-season deal with the Blue Bulls.
Capped 110 times by his country, the second row has made 10 Super Rugby starts during the current campaign, proving his match fitness. South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has now turned to Matfield’s experience and leadership for the summer.
Victor’s appointment as interim captain is something I thought long and hard about and it wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Meyer told South Africa Rugby. “The three candidates we considered, Victor, Bismarck du Plessis and Fourie du Preez, were all very strong options.
“We’re in a fortunate situation that we have a strong leadership group in the current squad, which includes Victor, Bismarck, Fourie, Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw.
“It’s only a short-term appointment as Jean will take over as captain again once he’s recovered from his injury. Victor was a logical option – he knows the pressure associated with being Springbok captain as he’s been there before and he has vast captaincy experience at all levels of the game.”
Matfield, who has previously captained the ‘Boks on 17 occasions, stated that this honour was not one he had anticipated enjoying.
I’m here to serve the team and would like to make a positive contribution,” said the lock. “When I decided to return to playing rugby, my aim was to be good enough to make the Springbok team. I never dreamt of leading the team again and it’s a massive honour.”
South Africa’s summer schedule gets underway this Saturday with the clash against a ‘World XV’ in Cape Town [KO 4.00pm Irish time], before they face Wales twice and finish with a fixture against Scotland.