Peter de Villiers has said that the historic occasion of Percy Montgomery’s 100th Test cap will be “as huge as Madiba’s 90th (birthday) – only 10 years more”.
News 24 reports that the national coach was extolling the virtues of the Springbok, who already holds the distinction of being South Africa’s most capped rugby player, as well as the country’s highest points scorer in Test rugby.
“Yeah, at this stage we (South Africa) don’t have that kind of player yet. On Saturday we’ll definitely have one,” said De Villiers. “I don’t think it could happen to a greater rugby player in our history. I’ve known Percy since 1979, I mean 1997 (laughing).
“This 100th Test cap on Saturday – it’s as huge as Madiba’s 90, only it’s 10 years more.
“I’m blessed to work with people like him. I will try to keep him calm because I know there is a whirlwind inside him. I’m looking forward to sharing that milestone with him over the weekend.”
Pursued a career abroad
The Walvis Bay-born Montgomery broke into the senior ranks at Western Province in 1996 and a few months later he made his Springbok debut against the British & Irish Lions in July 1997. In 2002 he left WP to pursue a career abroad but a few months ago he returned to the Streeptruie, and is presently a member of WP’s Currie Cup squad.
Last week he was capped for the 99th time, playing for the Boks against the Pumas in Johannesburg.
During the later part of his stint at WP Montgomery was not the most popular player at Newlands and there were times during the early part of his SA career that he was booed by Bok fans.
However, all that has changed and Montgomery is revered around the country – and by his coach De Villiers.
“He is the professional player now and he brings experience to the team, his extraordinary experience. Even when he’s not playing, he’s the same player, the same character, and you can see it on his face.
It is going to be huge
“What makes him so great is that he is prepared to share his knowledge with everybody in the side. He is not keeping anything for himself. Well, this week is going to be huge for him, but Percy knows that the job is more important than the milestone.”
Montgomery said he was doing all he could about not thinking too much about this career milestone.
“The 100th is going to be special, especially at Newlands and playing against New Zealand makes it even more special,” said Montgomery. “I try not to talk about it but I get a few of the guys (his teammates) chirping me at training sessions.
Montgomery will have the honour of running out ahead of Springbok captain Victor Matfield at Newlands on Saturday, to mark the historic occasion.
The other player that will also run out ahead of Matfield is Juan Smith, the Springbok flanker, who will be capped for the 50th time.Tweet