It has apparently been confirmed that 36-year-old Victor Matfield will indeed return to the playing field this year, as was widely rumoured towards the end of 2013.
The lack of a credible option at 5-lock for his beloved Bulls this year, coupled with a similar lack of depth at national level, is apparently the reason behind this strange decision, with the hope of somehow smuggling himself into the 2015 World Cup squad the carrot that Matfield is chasing.
There’s a famous theatre in London called “the Old Vic” and while the epithet may, in that case, be considered something of a compliment, it’s hard to argue that the same would apply to a once-legendary rugby player who, it is generally felt, is in serious danger of damaging his own legacy with this move. Two years is a very long time to spend on the sidelines, especially at that age and one wonders how long it will be before Matfield realises exactly how much ground he has lost – and other younger players gained – in terms of conditioning over those two years.
Should it pan out as anticipated, though, it could be a masterstroke and you can understand the Bulls’ rationale for wanting to hang on to at least one player from that “special era” towards the end of the last decade, which saw them capture the Super Rugby trophy three times. With so many stalwarts having left and serious questions now asked about the mettle of the Bulls pack, both at set piece time and in the loose, Matfield could be just the sort of imposing figure that they need.
That’s of course assuming that someone like Pieter-Steph du Toit or Willem Alberts doesn’t end his comeback within minutes of the season kicking off, with the sort of crunching tackle that 36-year-old bodies simply aren’t meant to withstand.Tweet