On Friday morning, in the cauldron that is Christchurch, two Bulls players will reach significant milestones.
24-year-old Jesse Kriel, who’s experiencing a real upturn in form under coach John Mitchell, celebrates his 50th cap.
It’s an indication of how the Springbok centre has been saddled with big responsibilities from a young age.
At the other end of the spectrum is Adriaan Strauss.
The former Bok skipper will equal Victor Matfield’s record as the most capped South African player in Super Rugby – a mammoth 148 matches.
That testifies to the 32-year-old hooker’s durability and value.
Here’s what the two men had to say.
On 50 caps…
It’s obviously a special thing. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by a lot of guys that have played a lot of games. You realised then that the moments are more important than the milestones. But I still need to go out and remember that this is just another game.
On his current form…
I think we’re all enjoying our rugby. We’ve had chances to close up games but we haven’t. The fact that we’re in those winning positions gives us confidence. I’ve just been able to express myself in our new system. The system is what is giving me that freedom. It’s about taking that opportunity.
On equalling Matfield’s record…
I don’t worry too much about records. It’s just a privilege to be playing the game. I’m actually still learning a lot. I think that’s a good sign. Coach John has said previously that the game is evolving every year and that’s an exciting challenge. The really fun part is seeing this team grow, I’m seeing it weekly. I’m glad to be part of it.
About his role as a ‘chilled’ senior player…
To be honest, I think I can still have much of the same role I’ve had previously. There are a lot of leaders in this team. I’m here as support and I’ll always give input but it’s important that the younger leaders like Burger Odendaal, Jesse, Lood de Jager and Handre Pollard make their own marks.
Taking stock of his career…
I’ve actually thought about this this week. I’ve encountered so many great players and coaches. It’s been a massive privilege. I remember as a youngster carrying the “lollipop” for (former Bok hooker) Gary Botha to practice our lineout throws. Super Rugby is a massive competition, arguably the best in the world.