Cape Town - Tiaan Liebenberg says he thoroughly enjoyed the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup experience, which saw the Springboks beat the Proteas by six wickets.
The former Springbok and Stormers hooker recently announced his retirement from rugby because of injury. This denied him a chance to play in a farewell match after a 12-year professional career, which included five Test caps.
Many will remember him as the hardman on the field, who managed to carry the ball up strongly and put in big tackles. However, off the field, the 32-year-old is known as one of the friendliest characters, always cracking jokes and showing a positive attitude.
The Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup allowed Liebenberg to enjoy an entertaining and colourful swansong with the Springboks. However, the player said the experience made him realise that he was part of a special legacy.
"That's one thing about the Springboks... the fact that you'll always be seen as a Springbok," Liebenberg told MyPlayers.co.za. "It was great seeing the guys again and catching up with guys like Victor Matfield, Willem Alberts and Hougies (Francois Hougaard). They welcomed my return. There was no talk about my retirement or how much weight I've picked up since I last saw them! I was just one of the boys again.
"I know it sounds (like a) cliché, but there's a special environment in the Springbok squad. We're a close family, and it will always be that way. It was great to feel that again."
Liebenberg credited the Proteas for the role they played as the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup proved to be an entertaining spectacle.
"The great thing is that the match was played without any egos," said Liebenberg. "Yes, we were gunning for the result and we were surprised with the win. But the match was played to provide entertainment, and I think both teams delivered on the night.
"The Proteas were great sports. It was really a special moment when we stood side by side singing the national anthem. Hopefully, the crowd enjoyed the show. The support at the stadium was amazing."
Liebenberg said his favourite moment was the catch that dismissed Robin Peterson off the bowling of Bismarck du Plessis.
"That ball was heading my way quick and flat! But I told myself, there was no way you're dropping this! I did pick up a finger injury, which would've probably ruled me out of Super Rugby and the Currie Cup, but hey, it was a great moment!"
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