Percy Montgomery’s illustrious career overlapped with that of Annelee Murray, and the legendary 102-Test fullback hails the Springboks’ beloved public relations manager in her book, ‘The First Lady of Springbok rugby’.
“I had two experiences of Annelee and she would say the same thing of me,” wrote Montgomery. “I was there for Annelee’s first year with the Bokke in 2001 and then I went to Wales before Jake picked me again in 2004. In those three years, I grew immensely as a person and they were the making of my last 52 Tests.
“Annelee’s impact in her first year with the team was immediate and she did things that hadn’t been done before. She showed a care that hadn’t been there before and she was always making things better for us players and making them right. But when I played again in 2004 I could see the growth in Annelee as a person and in her role within the Springboks.
“She was more settled and more confident, but what hadn’t changed was just how good she was at her job. She always wanted to make every player’s life easier on tour and to stop the noise around us and let us get on with playing rugby. She was a pillar of strength and will always be very special to me for everything she did for me, both as a player and as a colleague on the management team from 2009 to 2011.
“Apart from organising and preparing the players before a Test match, she was just as valuable to us off the field, especially for me. She continuously gave me sound advice and support and nothing was ever too much to ask of her. She listened and I don’t think anyone in the squad drank more coffee than Annelee because there was always a player wanting advice and guidance from her over a coffee. When we needed to talk, our person was Annelee.
“Every man needs a strong woman behind him and she was that for me in a professional capacity and exactly what I and the team needed.
“Annelee, you made my 100th Test at Newlands so memorable but your strength was that you treated every Test I played in as if it was mine and every other player’s 100th Test. You cared so much for us as players and for the Springboks and I will forever be grateful and thankful.”