Matfield sets retirement date
August 28, 2010
Springbok lock Victor Matfield will retire from rugby next year © Getty Images
James O'Connor sweeps past Francois Hougaard to score his second try for the Wallabies Pierre Spies can only watch as Kurtley Beale celebrates James O'Connor's first try and Australia's second Quade Cooper lookes to offload out of the tackle against the Springboks Schalk Burger passes the ball out of David Pocock's tackle Will Genia scorches over for Australia's opening try
Victor Matfield has re-iterated his intention to retire from playing after next year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
The Springbok lock will win his 100th Test cap at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday against Australia and while the 33-year-old wants to add to that total he is aware that the end is in sight. "You can never say never but at the moment that's the decision," he said. "I think the World Cup will be the last of me, I'll play no more than that."
His latest career landmark comes just a week after captain John Smit achieved the same milestone but Matfield has the added bonus of reaching a century of Springbok appearances at Loftus, the home ground of his Super 14 team the Bulls.
"It will be great to play my 100th Test at Loftus, it has been a great place for me. It's like a second home, I have a lot of friends there and I've had some unbelievable times there. It's going to be very special playing at Loftus and with the crowd and the field, hopefully it can inspire us to win because that's what's most important.
"I feel like I could play 10 more (Tests). My body feels fine, but I am looking forward to the break after the Tri Nations where I can get some rest and put in some good conditioning work."
Matfield is already considering his retirement plans and he intends to remain in the game in Boland, where he has financial investments. "I hope after my playing career that I will keep in the game because this is my passion, rugby is my life. I'm still involved with the Boland Rugby Union but I'm not sure I'll go into coaching there immediately, I'll probably stay behind the scenes but make rugby decisions. But I am still playing, so those sort of decisions will only be made next year."
The Springboks come into the game on the back of a four game losing streak against an Australian team who beat them in Brisbane earlier this campaign. The Wallabies have not won on the Highveld since 1963, and captain Rocky Elsom is expecting a fearsome response from the world champions.
And the Wallaby skipper believes the occasion, coupled with the decision to hand out masks with Matfield's face on them to the spectators, will spur the hosts on. "Victor has served his country well," he told Sport 24. "It will definitely serve as great motivation for them. But I don't think the guys will be intimidated to play against a full house with 30,000 fans wearing Victor Matfield masks. The Boks have a great record here and they obviously enjoy playing here. It probably does more for them than it does for us.
"The Boks are going to absolutely charge out at us. Judging from the opening minutes of last weekend's Test, they will be hovering around all of us. In the first two Tests against the All Blacks, they couldn't get a hand on their full-back, Mils Muliaina. Then last weekend he had a pretty tough day at the office. No doubt they will come out in a similar fashion against us, so what chances we get we have to take."
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton