Beating Wales is the top priority for the Springboks at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday in the series decider which doubles as a milestone Test for Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi.
Etzebeth, who made his international debut in June 2012 against England, will become the seventh – and youngest – Bok centurion, following in the footsteps of Victor Matfield, Bryan Habana, Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit, Jean de Villiers and Percy Montgomery.
Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi will also celebrate his 50th Test cap.
However, with the series against Wales all tied up at 1-1, after the tourists claimed a historic first win in South Africa last week, the Boks are cautious about celebrating the two milestones prematurely.
Instead, the focus is on the enormity of Saturday’s third and decisive Test in the series, with the Springboks treating it as a cup final.
During a media conference on Wednesday, Lood de Jager and Damian de Allende shared their thoughts on the occasion.
“It’s very special to play Eben’s 100th Test alongside him,” said De Jager, who will pack down next to Etzebeth for the 31st time, making them the second-most-capped Bok lock partnership after Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha (63 Tests as a combination).
“It is a special occasion for him, but it will be even more special if we can help win the match for him and Bongi.
“For us this is a final, the series is on the line and Wales feel the same way. We have big games coming up this year and next year as well, so it will be good for us to get used to pressure games such as these.”
De Allende said that he and Etzebeth go way back, as both players represented the same Western Province youth teams.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play with Eben since U19 level and the way he ran over the other players back then showed the aura he has as a player,” said De Allende.
“We all know this is his 100th Test, but the team’s goals come first and hopefully we can get a good result so that he can celebrate this milestone in style.
“It is a massive achievement for him and Bongi, but there is a bigger picture for us as a team and that is winning.”