In the wake of former Springbok lock Victor Matfield announcing his return to professional rugby at the age of 36, current Golden Lions coach and former Springbok lock Johann Ackermann said he hoped the Bulls legend was doing it for the right reasons.
Ackermann has the perfect platform to speak from – he was the oldest player to make his Springbok debut at the age of 37 in 2007.
He added that Matfield should not be compared to the likes of Simon Shaw and Brad Thorn, who were active players when selected despite their ages.
Englishman Shaw and All Black lock Thorn were 38 and 36, respectively, when they last represented their countries at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
“I’m not sure of his reasons for returning but if it’s about the glamour, then I think it’s for the wrong reasons.
“If he really feels that he didn’t achieve all that he set out to do, then it’s fine,” Ackermann said.
“In my case, I was still actively playing, even though it came as a surprise when Jake White had faith in me and asked me to cover for Bakkies Botha.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has given his former captain the green light for his return from retirement.
Matfield was a key figure in Meyer’s Bulls sides, who won numerous Currie Cups and a Super Rugby title in 2007.
On Friday, Meyer was not shy about the qualities that Matfield will bring to the Springboks as the team has not been able to replace him with a quality number five lock.
Meyer has tried four players in the position without success.
Eben Etzebeth has gone a long way towards plugging the gap left by Botha, who has been included in the squad for the year-end tour.
Meyer’s fondness for Matfield is well-recorded, with the duo sharing a bond that stretches a long way back.
On assuming the Bok coaching job last year, Meyer hinted that he would love to see the Bok lock (110 caps) back in action, but that it was out of the question because of the six- month doping freeze for players who have recently retired.
“I’ve always believed that we have quality number five locks in this country.
“If you are old enough, you are good enough.
“He is also a quality player and he has been fit,” Meyer said.
“It will be interesting to see if he plays but he is a guy who wants to play.
“We need quality number fives coming through and as a coach he has done a great job helping guys to adapt. It’s a position I’m worrying about.
“The more guys who play there the better.”
Attempts to contact Matfield were unsuccessful.