Victor Matfield handed South Africa captaincy three years after international retirement
Last Updated: 03/06/14 8:52am
Veteran Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks for their summer international fixtures in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers.
The 110-cap lock will lead the side out for the first time since his return international retirement at the end of the 2011 World Cup in Saturday’s match against a World XV at Newlands.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer made the announcement in Cape Town on Tuesday, three weeks after naming his training squad which included eight uncapped players.
South Africa have been hit with a raft of injuries to key players and Meyer admits returning the captaincy to Bulls second-row Matfield was not a straight-forward decision.
“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 the official website of SA 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.”
Following Saturday’s showdown against the World XV, South Africa play a two-Test series against Wales before a one-off international against Scotland.
Despite selecting Matfield to lead the Springboks throughout June, Meyer insists the appointment is simply to cover for De Villiers, who will resume captaincy duties on his return from injury.
“It’s only a short-term appointment as Jean will take over as captain again once he’s recovered from his injury,” he added.
“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.
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.
“Victor is someone who has the respect of all the players in our squad, as well as world-wide in rugby. He’s achieved a lot and has always put the team’s interests first, while most of the players in our squad have already played under him.”
Although honoured to regain the role Matfield, who captained the Springboks 17 times earlier in his career, believes Meyer has developed a strong structure of leadership within the dressing room.
“I’m here to serve the team and would like to make a positive contribution,” said Matfield.
“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.
“The coach has built a strong core of leaders and I’m fortunate to have guys such as Bismarck [du Plessis], Fourie [du Preez], Bryan [Habana], Duane [Vermeulen], Schalk [Burger], Flip [van der Merwe] and Francois [Louw] alongside me. And we’ll have Jean and Adriaan Strauss back with the team soon, which will add to the depth of leadership.”