With five days remaining before rugby’s showpiece tournament kicks off in France, SARugbymag.co.za spotlights the leading No 5 locks to represent the Springboks at a World Cup.
A key member of a rampant Transvaal team that won eight trophies in two years, Strydom and a pride of Lions teammates formed the core of the Bok team that went on to win the 1995 World Cup, after Kitch Christie was entrusted with leading the team to glory.
Together with Kobus Wiese and Balie Swart, Strydom excelled in a physical and dominant Bok pack that never backed down, and stood up bravely to the mighty All Blacks in the Ellis Park showpiece.
He played 21 Tests between 1993 and 1997, including the 1997 British & Irish Lions series.
There has been no greater lineout exponent in the game than Matfield, the most-capped Springbok in team history. For the entirety of his career, he ruled the air and tormented opposition jumpers and hookers.
His very presence in the Bok second row – often alongside his Bulls ‘brother’ Bakkies Botha – gave South Africa a mental advantage against their opponents.
One only has to look at the 2007 World Cup, where his efforts ensured SA never lost a lineout throughout the tournament to fully appreciate his impact.
In 2010, he became the third Bok to join the centurion club and first to win his 100th Test. Matfield’s final international game was in the third-place playoff of the 2015 World Cup, his fourth trip to the tournament.
Lood de Jager
A lineout general and tireless workhorse, De Jager has grown from strength to strength in the green and gold jersey for South Africa.
Consistent performances for the Cheetahs earned the towering lock his first Bok call-up in 2013, and went on to represent SA at the 2015 World Cup, where he also replaced Matfield in his final Test in a changing-of-the-guard moment.
Alongside regular second-row partner Eben Etzebeth, De Jager played an integral role in the Boks’ run to the 2019 World Cup title. But, injuries have plagued the 66-Test No 5 throughout his career, and he is on a stand-by list for France 2023 after a chest problem ruled him out of selection.
Photo: Greg Wood/AFP