Victor to end centurion curse
Pretoria - The Springboks will hope that another centurion's milestone can inspire the team to a win, as Victor Matfield becomes the third South African to achieve such a milestone.
According to the allblacks.com website, an emotional Matfield received a pair of boots from the Springboks first centurion, Percy Montgomery, in front of a media gathering at the Southern Sun hotel in Sunnyside.
"Your first game in a Springbok jersey is very special and to play your 50th as a Springbok is incredible, but to run out for your 100th game is something you never expect to happen," Matfield said.
Whether or not the occasion can inspire the team remains to be seen, but at least the Bulls lock will not play against the All Blacks – something of a bane against 100th Test celebrations.
Normally such a milestone guarantees success, with all seven of the first men to reach 100 Test matches able to record victories.
Of the next seven, only one of them – Irish forward John Hayes – was able to win in his 100th match.
Three of the last men to record such a mark, Percy Montgomery, George Smith and John Smit, all had their parties crashed by All Black teams.
Matfield, when taking on the Wallabies this weekend, will run out in front of his adoring home crowd at Loftus Versfeld, where his success at Currie Cup and Super 14 level has been quite remarkable.
The under pressure Springboks will be desperate to record their first success of the tournament, with the factors quoted as to their malaise adding up with every loss.
Among them is the fact that some feel that the South Africans have held onto some of their greatest players for too long.
But Matfield, unquestionably one of the greatest lineout technicians to have played the game, will hope to inspire his troops.
"We hope we can turn around our mistakes and bad luck from the first four games and come up with something special on Saturday," said Matfield.
At the very least, the South African cloning machine may help the Springboks, with reports there will be at least 35 000 Matfield’s at Loftus.
Puma spokesperson James Mullen said the masks will be handed out to honour the local hero, stating that "there will be thousands of Victor Matfields next to the pitch."
Percy Montgomery hands the real Victor Matfield his boots (PUMA)