Former All Black Ali Williams still regards Victor Matfield as one of the world's best locks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
After a career spanning more than a decade, Williams will feature in one of his final games when the World XV take on the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday.
The 34-year-old second rower is set to go head-to-head with Matfield, and reiterated his high regard for his old nemesis.
‘We all know what a champion Victor is, and what a world-class athlete he is. He’s proving that he can still be there and be one of the best. He offers so much on and off the field, so if you pull someone like that out of the team environment it can have a massive effect.’
On Saturday, Williams will line up alongside Toulon teammate Bakkies Botha, who has gone from foe to friend during their time in France.
‘Bakkies is a guy I played against for so long, but we’ve become really good mates. He’s a great man and a completely different character to what a lot of people see on the field when he’s in the role of enforcer.’
Williams said he had an appreciation for the decision taken by Botha to retire from international rugby.
‘Bakkies has achieved so much already. Rugby is a mental game, as well as a physical game. So if you are not there mentally, and you get to the point when you’ve had enough, then there’s no point being out there. Victor wants to do it, he wants another challenge, so that’s great. But Bakkies and myself, that’s not what pleases us anymore.’
Turning his attention to Saturday’s clash, Williams said the World XV would be coming to Newlands to play.
‘We’re not here to have a party, we know the importance of this game for the Boks, and we want to give them a great buildup to the World Cup. Everyone wants the Boks at their best. It makes for better competition.’
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