South Africa captain Adriaan Strauss will end his international career on Saturday when he leads his beleaguered team out for the last time in their final Test of the year against Wales.
Another defeat for the crisis-torn Springboks would ensure a record-breaking eight losses in 12 Tests this year and condemn the 2016 team to being remembered as their country’s worst ever.
“We have let ourselves and a lot of people down this year. A win against Wales wouldn’t put things right but it would help us as a team,” Strauss said on Friday.
“We are playing for a whole lot more than that – we are playing for the Springbok jersey.
“It’s a massive honour to play for South Africa. As a South African you grow up with the dream of being a Springbok so we play for a lot more than one cause.
“We play for the people back home, the supporters who are hurting, the coach and guys next to you in the team. It’s a massive cause,” he said.
The 31-year-old hooker caused a surprise in September by announcing his intention to quit Test rugby at the end of the year, failing to provide a clear reason.
Strauss became the 57th Bok captain in June but said he had already been thinking of retiring from internationals when he took up the captaincy offer from new coach Allister Coetzee.
Saturday’s Test in Cardiff comes a week after an embarrassing first-ever loss to Italy for South Africa, who this year also suffered a first home defeat by Ireland, a first away loss in Argentina and a record 57-15 home thumping by New Zealand.
The Springboks also lost to England this month for the first time in 10 years.