Vodacom Stormers captain Jean de Villiers jokes only one thing would make him happier than a win in his 50th Super rugby match – winning the Lotto!
De Villiers made his debut in 2005 and will be leading the Cape Town side in an important match against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday (kick-off 08:35 SA time). He will be playing at outside centre to accommodate Peter Grant at his inside, with De Villiers’ regular midfield partner Gcobani Bobo at wing.
The fact that he didn’t mention any personal achievement such as a hat-trick of tries as something that would make him happy is just testimony of what a wonderful team man the 28-year-old is.
Coach Rassie Erasmus lauded his captain and said he was an important player to the team. “It is wonderful for Jean to get to this achievement. I am not superstitious but usually one loses your 50th game. I was fortunate to win both my 50th and 100th games, but it is great for us to have Jean playing his 50th, particularly with all his injuries.”
De Villiers admitted to being very excited about the prospect. “I only heard earlier this week, so I am very excited but I still take it just like any other game.”
The Springbok stalwart said he was happy with the way the team prepared and adapted to their new surroundings. “I think we settled in nicely. Also, if you look at the team that we selected and the one that finished the game against the Lions you will see it’s the same team.
“It was a very good performance against the Lions and hopefully we can do it again this weekend. It would be nice to start with a win away from home.”
He however emphasized he doesn’t underestimate the home side. “The Crusaders is not a team with many weak points. Everybody knows they initially battled with a new coach and several injuries. They are finding their feet now and are showing better form and they would be smarting for a win at home after losing a few there earlier.”
The product of Paarl Gimnasium and current SA Rugby Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year is a key player for the Stormers. For this game he will be at No 13. He is happy to do duty there and has no qualms about Grant on his inside and Bobo on his outside.
“I played with Peter a lot before in the 10 and 12 channel. Now it is just a bit wider and we know each other well. Bobes is just in the outside channel and the fact that we played together so often at centre would hopefully help us to make a success of things on Saturday.”
De Villiers said every game was important in the Super 14 and they don’t regard this one as more important than the rest because it was the first one. “We want to win every game we play and this one is no different. If it doesn’t happen we have four other games in which we can do it so we can still make a success of the tour.”
He added that being away from home was helpful in the sense that people didn’t recognize them on the street and it helped to create a more relaxed atmosphere. But added: “There is always an extra bit of pressure at home but it is always good to know that your people support you.
“The guys prepared well and we are focused, so hopefully we can get a win for our supporters.”