Smit: Matfield was greatest ever Bok
October 10, 2011
Victor Matfield soars above the Australia lineout in his last appearance for South Africa © Getty Images
South Africa's John Smit has hailed countryman Victor Matfield as the Springboks' greatest ever international as they both bid an emotional farewell to international rugby.
The Springboks pair retired from international rugby following South Africa's defeat to Australia in the quarter-final of the World Cup on Sunday.
Smit, who will continue his career with Saracens in the Aviva Premiership, stepped down as Springboks skipper after seven years in the role with a total of 111 caps to his name. While Matfield, 34, stepped into retirement having played in 110 tests for his country.
"I could sit here for an hour speaking about the value and contribution he has made to South Africa," Smit said of Matfield following South Africa's exit from the World Cup. "Again, colossal in the lineouts, leadership sublime, always making sure the right calls are made, his composure.
"I think the most valuable thing about Victor is how he makes the players around him feel. When he's picked in the side, there's a calmness about him, a composure that he possesses, and hopefully the youngsters will have learned from that and will have taken it forward.
"He's a huge player. In my opinion, the greatest Springbok that's ever been."
Matfield added: "I think I'm going to miss it. I love this game. It has been my life over the last 12 years, so it's going to be tough."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin