Springbok veteran Victor Matfield says the next generation of South African players must inspire fear in their opponents if they are to go on and win a third World Cup.
The 38-year-old lock said it would be easy to get the squad up for the third-placed game, after the disappointment of a 20-18 loss to World Champions New Zealand on Saturday, as for several players it will be the last time they represent their country.
“It is never a meaningless game when you put on a Springbok jersey, but we will have a good break these next two days and then the coach (Heyneke Meyer) already said we will get together on Wednesday,” said Matfield.
“There are quite a few guys who will have their last outing in a Springbok jersey so we would definitely like to make that special, make that a good last game for the most of us.”
His remarks with regard to the third place game contrast to those of Meyer, who made clear his disdain for the match.
“Mentally, it’s very tough,” said Meyer in the immediate aftermath of the semi-final loss.
“It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister.”
Matfield, whose tournament was hampered by a hamstring injury, said the team had done well to come back from their opening loss against Japan and while they may have lost, they came extremely close to going through to the final.
“It all started with Japan which was probably one of the darkest weeks ever,” said Matfield, who was man of the match when the Springboks won the trophy in 2007 beating the then defending champions England in Paris.
“After that, although I didn’t play I had some of the best weeks with the Boks – just to see how the guys pulled together, how Heyneke (Meyer) got the guys behind Fourie (du Preez) and Schalk (Burger).
“The guys became close and we really had a belief that we can do something special. Last night (Saturday) we were one penalty away from being down in the dumps to doing something special but unfortunately it didn’t end well.”
While the All Blacks advance to the final and could become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups and also the first to win the trophy three times, the Bok lock would not go as far as Meyer in dubbing them the ‘greatest ever’.
“It is difficult to say the greatest – there are different eras but it is a great team,” said Matfield, who joins English side Northampton after the curtain comes down on the tournament.