The more trophies, series and Tests the Springboks win will inspire the team to reach new levels.
This is the view of Bok vice-captain Victor Matfield. Before the Boks’ opening Tri-Nations triumph over the All Blacks, there was a worry the hosts would not be able to lift themselves to the psychological highs of the Lions series. Matfield assured this wouldn’t be the case before the match, and he proved to be correct.
Matfield reiterated the point after the victory. Although many of the senior Boks have achieved all there is in the game, Matfield denied they would drop their standards or goals. The Bulls’ lock has a World Cup-winners medal, has defeated the British & Irish Lions, has a couple of Super 14 titles to his name, as well as being a winner of the Currie Cup. He doesn’t want to stop there.
‘I don’t play for personal records, what keeps me going is winning trophies with the teams I’m involved in,’ Matfield told keo.co.za. ‘Every time I put on that Bok jersey I want to win. I’ve said it before, I’ve only won the Tri-Nations once, and I want to do it again.
‘It’s like being a businessman, when you broker one good deal, you want it more and more.’
Matfield said individuals hardly take notice of their respective achievements in the game while still playing.
‘Those trophies and series wins are great to have, but we will only realise our achievements after our careers are finished. Then we will sit back and reflect and it will be great to look back on.’
Fostering a winning habit is crucial in any team, and Matfield said defeating the All Blacks consecutively would be a major boon.
‘That was only the first game of the Tri-Nations,’ he said. ‘It is tough to beat them twice in a row and we’ll have to re-focus for the next match.’
After cruising to a 17-3 lead early in the second stanza, the Boks failed to put the Kiwis away, instead having to fight off a late comeback when the result should never have been in doubt.
‘In that first half we won many turnovers from defence, while in the second we gave them too much space to play,’ he lamented. ‘We said last Thursday we want to improve our performance, and we’ll have to get better again if we want to win the Tri-Nations.
‘We still have to tour so the next two games are important – you have to win at home.’
The All Blacks will be looking for a crucial away win, but they won’t achieve that if they don’t dominate upfront. As the lineout specialist, Matfield lauded the set-piece and said the rolling maul that was so effective would be a key weapon.
‘I’m proud of our lineout,’ he said. ‘We put them under pressure, while the way we drove put us on the front foot and repeatedly got us into their half.
‘If we can have that display every week I’ll be happy.’
By Grant Ball