This milestone is not really something I have been thinking about all that much, I don’t want to be thinking about other things when there is a much greater task at hand.
Despite playing in his 100th Super Rugby game for the Sharks this weekend, hooker Bismarck du Plessis believes that there are more important things to concern himself with.
There have been times when the occasion was just too much, when playing for a particular milestone or reason got in the way of the bigger contest.
But it appears this is not the case for Du Plessis, arguably one of the most competitive and combative players in the world and who shrugs off the meaning of his own achievement in favour of what the team could accomplish should they win Saturday’s Super Rugby Final against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
“This milestone is not really something I have been thinking about all that much, I don’t want to be thinking about other things when there is a much greater task at hand,” he explains. “We have a great opportunity to achieve something as a team which is so much more special.”
When pressed on the subject of 100 caps, he admits that it was never in his sights when he started out as a young understudy to Springbok and Sharks captain John Smit.
“When I arrived at the Sharks, all I wanted to do was to play 10 games, and when I did that, and then more, it was a massive privilege for me. I’m very grateful to everyone who has played some role in where I am in my rugby career at the moment.
“When I starting playing senior rugby with the Sharks, there were players like Warren Britz, Charl van Rensburg, John Smit and others, they played many, many games for the Sharks and here I am seven years later, still playing.”
Beating the Australian Conference winners (Reds), then the South African winners (Stormers) seems to indicate that the team has responded very well to pressure, which indicates huge growth in temperament and leadership.
He admits that it was how they responded to their situation that showed their belief in themselves.
“We wanted to make something happen for us as a team, everyone had written us off, especially after the Lions game which was really disappointing for us, so we sat down as a group and set ourselves certain goals.
“Then we started to achieve some of those goals and we built confidence, everyone was playing well for the team and things were happening for us, good things. And here we are, at the final.”
The Chiefs are worthy finalists and he pays them their due. “When we played them in Durban, we lost that game, but we didn’t play to our full potential. They’re a team that has played consistently well all season, they’re the form team of the tournament.”
While the Sharks have proved successful both home and away this season, he admits that the nature of the game means that anything is possible.
“We take no confidence from our away record, this is a final, a once-off game where anything can happen.”
Should the Sharks win the final, it will be the first time a Sharks team has done it. Stand on the brink of success, he explains that, “We put ourselves in the position we find ourselves in at the moment and we just want to keep playing as we have been. A lot of hard work has been put in by the team and around the team and now we need to finish that off.”
Somewhat tongue in cheek, he admits that the game won and lost “On the scoreboard. The team with the fewest points definitely won’t win!”
Press a little further and he adds, “It’s going to be a big game from the start, defences will be tested and we need to take our opportunities when they present themselves or we create them.”