Matfield remains tight-lipped

It is fair to say that Victor Matfield has quite a lot on his mind at the moment.

Matfield was named the 52nd South African captain on Wednesday by coach Jake White, captain for a match against the number one team in the world and the third-last Test before the start of September’s Rugby World Cup.

Then there is Toulon. The overtures from the Var region in France have been there for some time, and although Matfield was effectively gagged by the Bok team management at Friday’s captain’s press conference, and unwilling to talk after – “I haven’t decided anything yet” was all he would say – the quotes in Friday’s Midi-Olympique regarding Matfield’s desire to see Heynecke Meyer as Bok coach, and the lack of an offer from either Bulls or SARU, will have done nothing to ease any of the pressure upon either captain or team management.

The French journalists, and there are a number of them in Durban this week as they scout the opposition for France’s World Cup, were unanimous that Matfield is on his way to the Pro D2, indeed, that the contract has already been signed.

Team manager Zola Yeye insisted Matfield would talk of nothing but Saturday’s game at the press conference, and there was a pregnant silence among the journalists present as all pondered the significance of Yeye’s gag.

Matfield did say that he would talk about the situation after the game on Saturday, but for now, he was keeping his mind on the task ahead at Durban’s ABSA stadium.

No wonder he spent a good ten minutes looking pensively at the Indian Ocean immediately after the press conference, before his daughters dragged him back to the heres and nows.

“It will always be tough captaining your team and your country, especially against the top team in the world,” he said.

“I think luckily I have worked closely with John (Smit) for a while, and I think the structures that are in place and have been in place for the last year will help. I think the communication on the field will be very good.

“Myself, John and Jean (de Villiers) always work very closely together, so with Jean and Butch (James) still there as well they will help me a lot too.

“I still have the same job, I still have the same line-out calls, Jean and Butch still call the shots in the backs, the only extra thing is maybe making decisions about tactics on the field like going for posts or not, so most of the time I will concentrate on the line-outs as usual.

“The last two World Cup winners were lock captains, so hopefully there is some sort of hope for me in that!”

The changes to the Bok team resulting from injuries, particularly the double blow on Wednesday when Juan Smith and Pierre Spies withdrew, have left the Boks looking a little less settled than their opposition, and certainly a little barer with regard to their usual hard-hitting game. Is a change of tactic in the offing?

“Each player brings something different to the game. Hopefully we can exploit his (Bob Skinstad’s) strengths this Saturday.

“It is great to have Bobby in the team, particularly with his experience it will help in talking to the guys and lifting them up. He is very good at that.

“It is always difficult when there are a few injuries, especially the guys who pull out late, but in World cup year it is important to have a strong squad, and those guys coming in have a great opportunity.

“I am sure they will come to the party on Saturday and deliver what’s expected of them.”

There was also a little barb directed at the New Zealand scrum, with the focus still being aplied on BJ Botha, but Matfield put up a counter-argument to shift that attention to Tony Woodcock.

“I don’t know what the issue is with BJ is – I do know it is very easy for a team to accuse a tighthead of scrumming in when their loosehead is walking around,” said Matfield.

“I don’t know if maybe Woodcock will be walkin

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