As Eben Etzebeth prepares to make his 100th Test appearance, SARugbymag.co.za takes a look back at the Springbok centurions who have come before him.
Jean de Villiers is the fifth most capped Springbok despite suffering serious injuries early and late in his international career.
De Villiers lasted only six minutes in his Test debut against France in Marseille in 2002, before tearing knee ligaments and spending nine months on the sidelines. His second Test, more than a year later, lasted just 15 minutes before injury struck again.
De Villiers went on to enjoy a fruitful international career and became the most capped centre in Springbok history. But he suffered a serious knee injury against Wales in November 2014, and while he recovered in time to captain the Boks at the 2015 World Cup, his campaign lasted just two matches before he suffered a fractured jaw.
De Villiers played 109 Tests, captained his country 37 times and was at the heart of the 2009 team that won a series against the British & Irish Lions and then the Tri-Nations title after beating the All Blacks three times.
The measure of his stature within the professional game is the respect he commanded from the opposition. This was evident when All Blacks great Richie McCaw welcomed the Springbok to the 100 club in September 2014 with a bottle of champagne and a speech where he reinforced the respect the All Blacks had for De Villiers the person and the rugby player. McCaw described the Bok centre as one of the great ambassadors of the game.
For the full version of this article, get your copy of SA Rugby magazine
Photo: Getty Images