Matfield up for World Cup challenge

Bok lock Victor Matfield believes this year’s World Cup is set to be one of the most competitive ever, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Matfield will serve as the Boks’ vice-captain at what will be his fourth World Cup, and he said that the motivation to contribute to a successful campaign was as great as ever.

‘It’s probably going to be one of the toughest World Cups, there are so many teams that can realistically win the tournament. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re very confident in ourselves and what we can achieve, so hopefully we can go do something special.

‘As a team we really want to do well. I’ve been fortunate to be part of a successful team and able to see what it means to this country to win a World Cup. We really want to go out there and do that again, to make the country proud and just prove that we are the best in the world.’

Matfield has started 13 Tests since coming out of retirement last year, taking his record Bok appearances tally to 123, while he is set to become the most capped Springbok World Cup player at this year’s event.

‘When I came out of retirement two years ago, it was my goal to make it to this World Cup,’ he reflected. ‘I was a bit worried in the beginning about whether I would make it to this point, but now that opportunity is around the corner, hopefully I can go out there and help the team do well.’

The 38-year-old is expected to start alongside Eben Etzebeth at the World Cup, with Lood de Jager and Pieter-Steph du Toit providing second-row cover.

‘Eben is young, but very experienced with nearly 40 Test caps to his name already. He’s a fantastic player and we know what he brings to the game,’ Matfield commented. ‘Then I’ve been fortunate to work with Lood over the last couple of years and to see him develop has been great, he really thinks about the game and I think he’s been outstanding this season. He can play at 4 or 5, he can carry the ball and is good at lineout time too.

‘Pieter-Steph is also such a great athlete, he’s had a couple of unfortunate injuries and people were wondering if he’d make it [to the World Cup], but he’s got all the ability in the world and I think he’s going to be a fantastic player for many years to come.’

Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images

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