Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks this month in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers - and he will lead them out for the first time since his return to rugby in Saturday’s match against a star-studded World XV at Newlands.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer made the announcement in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Matfield, who has played 110 Tests for South Africa, last captained the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.
“Victor’s appointment as interim captain is something I thought long and hard about and it wasn’t an easy decision to make,” said Meyer.
“The three candidates we considered, Victor, Bismarck du Plessis and Fourie du Preez, were all very strong options.
“We’re in a fortunate situation that we have a strong leadership group in the current squad, which includes Victor, Bismarck, Fourie, Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw.
“It’s only a short-term appointment as Jean will take over as captain again once he’s recovered from his injury. Victor was a logical option - he knows the pressure associated with being Springbok captain as he’s been there before and he has vast captaincy experience at all levels of the game.
“I also firmly believe Bismarck has improved a lot in this role with the Sharks and I know he can still lead the Springboks. He’s 100% supportive of Victor and he will remain one of our vice-captains for the season.
“Victor is someone who has the respect of all the players in our squad, as well as worldwide in rugby. He’s achieved a lot and has always put the team’s interests first, while most of the players in our squad have already played under him.”
Matfield, who has captained the Springboks in 17 Tests earlier in career, said he is very grateful for the trust shown in him by the national coach.
“I’m here to serve the team and would like to make a positive contribution,” said Matfield.
“When I decided to return to playing rugby, my aim was to be good enough to make the Springbok team. I never dreamt of leading the team again and it’s a massive honour.
“The coach has built a strong core of leaders and I’m fortunate to have guys such as Bismarck, Fourie, Bryan, Duane, Schalk, Flip and Francois alongside me. And we’ll have Jean and Adriaan Strauss back with the team soon, which will add to the depth of leadership.”
Matfield will captain the Springboks in their four matches in June. The vice-captains will be Du Plessis and Du Preez.