Springbok captain Jean de Villiers doesn't want his 100th Test, against New Zealand, to detract from his team's tough task at hand on Saturday.
Springbok centre Jean de Villiers does not want his 100th Test, on Saturday against New Zealand, to detract from his charges' difficult task at hand.
De Villiers, Springbok number 735, will lead South Africa for the 28th time when he runs onto the pitch at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
It will be his record 85th appearance in the Bok midfield after he made his debut against France in Marseille on 9 November 2002. De Villiers has also made 15 appearances as a wing.
The 33-year old De Villiers said at one stage early in his career he wasn't sure that he was going to play a second Test for the Springboks.
Due to two serious injuries – the first which saw his Test debut last only seven minutes and the second which cost him a spot in the Rugby World Cup squad in 2003 – De Villiers' second Test in the green and gold was more than 18 months after his debut, on 17 July 2004 against the Pacific Islanders in Australia.
It was during that Test that De Villiers scored the first of his 25 Test tries – which places him joint-fifth of the list of all-time Springbok try-scorers with Percy Montgomery, South Africa's first Test centurion.
“At one stage I honestly didn't know when, or if, I would play in my second Test for the Springboks,” said De Villiers in Wellington this week.
“My luck with injuries changed over the years and I almost can't believe that I'm now on the cusp of 100 Tests for the Springboks.
“It's a huge honour and I'm very humbled by all the support I've received. But I can honestly say that I almost would've preferred if this was only a regular Test. We've got a massive challenge this weekend and the belief is there that we can win – we've got to put that into action on Saturday.”
De Villiers thanked his wife, Marlie, for her unwavering support over the course of his career, as well as his parents, Andre and Louise, and brother, Andre-Louis, with whom he played for the SA Under-19s in 1999.
“I've been privileged to have great support from my family through the years and more recently, from my wife – she's been a rock and if you think playing 100 Tests is tough, you've not spent months on your own raising two beautiful daughters while your husband flies around the world playing rugby,” said De Villiers.
Apart from playing in his 100th Test for the Boks, it will also be De Villiers' 28th as captain after he was appointed by Heyneke Meyer in June 2012. It places fourth on the list of most Tests as Springbok captain, behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36) and Francois Pienaar (29).