Mat­field will be un­masked as a ton-up Spring­bok against Wal­la­bies

The Scotsman - - Sfl In Focus - KEN BOr­LaNd

SouTH Africa lock Vic­tor Mat­field will cel­e­brate his 100th test ap­pear­ance in the Tri-Na­tions en­counter against Aus­tralia to­day sur­rounded by 60,000 fa­mil­iar faces – all of them his own.

The 33-year-old Spring­boks vice­cap­tain will be­come the third player from his coun­try to reach a cen­tury of caps when he steps out on his home field of Lof­tus Vers­feld, and his spon­sors have en­sured the oc­ca­sion will be marked in unique style.

Masks de­pict­ing the bearded li­ne­out spe­cial­ist will be handed to all spec­ta­tors ar­riv­ing at the sta­dium in Pre­to­ria and Mat­field is look­ing for­ward to join­ing skip­per John Smit and kick­ing coach Percy Mont­gomery as South African test cen­tu­ri­ons.

“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,” Mat­field said.

“The team were al­ready wear­ing some of the masks on the bus, which was a bit scary. 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.”

New Zealand clinched the TriNa­tions with a 29-22 vic­tory over South Africa in Jo­han­nes­burg last week and, while Mat­field is hop­ing the hosts can end a run of four straight de­feats this week­end, he is al­ready plan­ning a fu­ture away from the pitch.

“I think the (2011) World Cup will be the last of me, I’ll play no more than that. You can never say never but at the moment that’s the de­ci­sion,” Mat­field said. “I hope af­ter my play­ing ca­reer that I will keep in the game be­cause this is my pas­sion, rugby is my life,” he added.

“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.”

South Africa go into to­day’s match search­ing for a first win in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion. Mat­field said the South African team is “des­per­ate” and “ir­ri­tated” af­ter four suc­ces­sive losses.

The un­ex­pected los­ing streak has thrown the reign­ing world cham­pi­ons off course in the build-up to next year’s World Cup, but Mat­field, a vet­eran of two World Cups and a win­ner in 2007, says they won’t panic.

“I think they (New Zealand) are play­ing very well at the moment but we are happy with what we are do­ing and where we are go­ing so I don’t think we must worry too much about them,” Mat­field said.

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