New Springbok Test record for Matfield
The veteran lock will make his 112th appearance in the green and gold on Saturday.
CAPE TOWN - Victor Matfield will become the most-capped Test player in the history of South African rugby on Saturday when he leads the Springboks against Wales in his 112th Test match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The record-breaking feat caps a remarkable return to rugby for the veteran lock, who retired after the Rugby World Cup in 2011, before making a highly successful return to the game earlier this year.
The 37-year-old made his Test debut on 30 June 2001 against Italy in Port Elizabeth.
"This is a fantastic accolade for Victor. He has been a terrific servant of the game in South Africa and has led his country with distinction since returning to the green and gold," said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
"When he returned to the game earlier this season, he set his goals on becoming a Springbok yet again and he's worked extremely hard to get there. I don't think anyone can doubt that he deserves his place in the team and he's also been a great interim captain, with Jean de Villiers out injured."
Matfield will captain a Springbok starting line-up featuring two changes from the team which beat Wales 38-16 in Durban last week.
Both changes are in the forward pack, where Tendai Mtawarira returns at loosehead prop in the place of Gurthrö Steenkamp, while Flip van der Merwe replaces Bakkies Botha in the second row.
The only other change to the team is among the substitutes, with Wynand Olivier replacing the injured Johan Goosen as midfield cover.
Ruan Pienaar will provide backup for scrumhalf and flyhalf, while Lwazi Mvovo can cover fullback and wing.
Meyer said it was an easy decision to stick with the core of the team which beat the Welsh last weekend in Durban.
"I've always preferred to stick with a winning combination and the changes to the team were both part of our planning. The backline really performed well last weekend and we would like to give them another opportunity to play together, as there were a number of new combinations."
Meyer revealed that certain selections were fitness related.
"Bakkies is fit for selection, but we decided to manage his workload this week and I know Flip, who has been outstanding in the last two seasons, will slot back in easily. The same goes for 'Beast', who upped the tempo with his work rate last weekend."
Meyer said he was expecting another tough challenge from Wales this weekend.
"They've had another week together and will be keen to lift their game on Saturday, but at the same time we were not happy with certain aspects of our game and we've worked hard to rectify that," said Meyer. "This is their last match of the season, so we're expecting them to come out firing. But we also want to make a step up and ensure we keep on improving as the season progresses."
Springbok team to face Wales (15-1): Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez (vice-captain), Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield (captain), Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis (vice-captain), Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Schalk Brits, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Wynand Olivier, Lwazi Mvovo.