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Matfield could lead Springboks again

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Victor Matfield in his last game for South Africa against Australia during the quarter-final of the World Cup.

Victor Matfield in his last game for South Africa against Australia during the quarter-final of the World Cup. Photo: Getty Images

Rumours that South African rugby legend Victor Matfield will come out of retirement and lead his country in a three-Test June home series against England are refusing to go away.

Initially dismissed as an April Fools joke orchestrated by the local media, a belief that the 34-year-old World Cup winner could play for the Springboks again after retiring last October gathered strength this week.

Injuries to flankers Schalk Burger and Juan Smith - considered the main candidates to succeed retired hooker John Smit as skipper - have complicated the captaincy issue with the first Test less than two months away.

Interested bystander ... Victor Matfield watches his former team the Bulls play the Lions in Super Rugby last weekend.

Interested bystander ... Victor Matfield watches his former team the Bulls play the Lions in Super Rugby last weekend. Photo: Getty Images

The expected return of Burger for the ongoing Stormers' Super Rugby tour of Australasia failed to materialise after he was injured on the opening weekend of the season and Smith may be sidelined until next year.

"New Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer asked me to make a comeback to the playing field and it is something I am giving thought to, but we are a long way from anything being decided," stressed Matfield in a television interview.

"If it were not Heyneke asking me I would not even be considering it," added the 110-cap warrior, whose dream of a second World Cup was dashed last October by a narrow quarter-final loss to Australia in Wellington.

Matfield has been working as a consultant to the Bulls, with whom he won three Super Rugby titles with, and as a touchline analyst for Johannesburg-based pay channel SuperSport.

Meyer heightened speculation over the Springbok icon on Thursday after a four-day Pretoria planning camp with selected players from the Golden Lions and Central Cheetahs Super Rugby squads.

"The captain for the England Test series will not necessarily be the same one for the rest of the season," he said referring to six southern hemisphere championship games and a three-Test end-of-season tour to the United Kingdom.

"I will probably announce the captain a week before the first Test against England and there are a lot of great leaders to choose from," added the coach who succeeded controversial Peter de Villiers after the 2011 World Cup.

However, with Keegan Daniel (The Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs) and Josh Strauss (Lions) unlikely starters against England and Burger injured, that leaves only eighthman Pierre Spies (Bulls) among the Super Rugby skippers.

Meyer said 2011 World Cup first-choice outside centre Jaque Fourie would not be available for Springbok selection while serving a two-year contract with Japanese outfit Kobe Steelers.

Butch James, fly-half when the Springboks defeated England in the 2003 World Cup final at Stade de France, announced his retirement from Test rugby this week after a 42-cap career.

South Africa host England on June 9 at Kings Park in Durban.

AFP

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
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ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
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