Veteran Springbok lock Victor Matfield is not ready for retirement – not yet in any case.
The 38-year-old Bok legend played his last Test during the recent World Cup but now he is set to turn out for the Barbarians against Argentina on November 21 while he will see out his long career with Northampton in the United Kingdom next year.
Joining him in the Baabaas squad are long-time lock partner Bakkies Botha, 36, who retired last year but will come out of retirement for this game as well as current Bok lock Lood de Jager, Sharks’ trio in scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, flyhalf Pat Lambie and prop Beast Mtawarira and Cheetahs centre Francois Venter.
Matfield, who captained the Springboks for a 23rd time in his last and 127th Test for the third place finish against Argentina at the World Cup, said he was not sorry that he decided to come out of retirement in 2014.
“After what I’ve experienced in the seven weeks with this team, coming back was definitely worth it,” said Matfield, who was also part of the campaigns in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
The Boks however were under fire from the word go when they opened with a shock 34-32 defeat to minnows Japan and the team were under pressure to come back which they did to win their group and set up a quarterfinal clash with Wales.
But even before the tournament the Boks were under the radar with a shadow hanging over several players who had just back from injury, while players like Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Morne Steyn were considered as part of an ‘ageing’ group of players.
“After the defeat against Japan, we built a brotherhood in this team that was just fantastic,” remembered Matfield, who also captained the Bulls to maiden Super Rugby glory against the Sharks in Durban in 2007.
After edging Wales 23-19 in the quarterfinals, the Boks qualified for the semifinals against defending champions New Zealand where they just fell short to lose by 20-18.
“We were one penalty away from playing in the final,” said Matfield, who came on as a replacement for the game after Du Preez retained the leadership after the injury to the unlucky Jean de Villiers in the second game against Samoa.
“We really wanted to be there but the guys picked themselves up for the last match against a fantastic Argentinean team and we shut them out.
“In the end I think we won comfortably,” said Matfield of their 24-13 win over the Pumas, who enjoyed a great World Cup by crushing Ireland in the quarterfinals before going down gamely to the Wallabies in the semifinals.