Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Everybody wants to win the Rugby World Cup. But, for some players, this will be their last shot at lifting the trophy. Some of them have already experienced glory in 2007, but that won't lessen the will to win again in 2015.
Here are some Springbok legends who will, in all likelihood, be playing in their last Rugby World Cup.
It’s been an illustrious career for Matfield, who will almost certainly begin a future in coaching after the tournament. The former Bulls linchpin has won a World Cup, two Rugby Championships, three Super Rugby titles and three Currie Cups. There isn’t anything left to achieve for the 38-year-old, but that won’t make the desire any less over the next few weeks.
JEAN DE VILLIERS
The De Villiers story is as inspiring as it is heart-breaking. Injuries have limited his World Cup participation over the years and came very close to doing so again in 2015. But he has made a full recovery and will start Saturday’s tournament opener against Japan. The Springbok captain has already confirmed that he will not be playing any more Tests on South African soil, which points towards an obvious post-World Cup retirement.
FOURIE DU PREEZ
South African rugby’s Mr. Consistency, Du Preez made his debut for the Boks in 2004. He has a 2007 winner’s medal and has kept his place in 2015 despite having been injured throughout the build-up to the tournament and having played abroad since 2011. At 33 and with his body clearly battling to handle the rigours of international rugby, this will surely be Du Preez’s swan song.
The incredible Schalk … for many reasons. The Stormers loose forward overcame a life-threatening meningitis scare three years ago and has made his way back to the very top. Burger’s physicality, work on the ground and skills make him a crucial tool in the Boks’ World Cup bid. He is 32 years old, which probably makes this his last tournament.
Say what you must about Steyn, but the facts reveal that he is one of the most prolific flyhalves in South African rugby history. Only Percy Montgomery has scored more Test points for the Boks. What role Steyn plays in this tournament remains to be seen as Handre Pollard and Pat Lambie slug it out for the No. 10 jersey, but this will surely be the last we see of Steyn at a World Cup.
South Africa’s all-time leading try scorer … and he will be for a while. Who knows how many he will finish on, but regardless of what happens this is surely his final World Cup. Habana has been a mainstay in the Bok side for a decade, but at 32 it is hard to see him getting on a plane to Japan in four years’ time.
THE DU PLESSIS BROTHERS
A tough one to call. Bismarck looks like he may have enough in the tank to stick around for a few more years, but older brother Jannie has probably been battered and bruised enough to ensure that this will be his last appearance at a World Cup.