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Monty – ‘I’m always available for the Boks’

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Springbok full-back Percy Montgomery has no intention of quitting international rugby, despite having signed a post-Rugby World Cup deal with French club Perpignan.

Montgomery, who will line up for the Boks against Namibia at Newlands on Wednesday evening, said he would never turn down a chance to represent his country, despite penning a deal which will once again see him play abroad after the 2007 World Cup.

“I’ll always make myself available,” Montgomery told reporters ahead of the Namibia match. “If SA rugby needs me I will come back, I’m only a phone call away and I would always be more than willing to help.”

For now, however, it seems that Montgomery will be playing his final match for the Boks in South Africa, with SA Rugby having recently announced that overseas-based players would not be considered for selection from next year.

It seems rather appropriate, however, that he could in all probability play his last game for the Boks, in SA, at Newlands – back where it all began for the Springboks’ record points-scorer.

“It will be an emotional game. I might have a moment, but I’ll keep it to myself when I’m out there,” admitted Montgomery, who was born in Namibia.

“My father played for South West Africa and I remember watching Namibia play WP at Newlands many years back when I was a young boy. It will be a great moment for me.”

Montgomery, at the ‘ripe’ old age of 33, has come full circle in South African rugby. Having made his debut as a raw, but talented back against the British & Irish Lions in 1997, a calmer and more experienced Monty is currently preparing for his second World Cup, where he is set to surpass Joost van der Westhuizen as SA’s most-capped international.

“As a player you don’t worry too much about records,” he said rather modestly. “You leave it to friends and family to add up and record. Maybe when I’m no longer playing I’ll look back on these achievements.”

His points-scoring and impending appearance records aside, Montgomery can also look back at his previous stint abroad – at Newport between 2002 and 2004 – with pride, although he insists that he had always planned on returning to South Africa to attend to some unfinished business.

“It is every youngster’s dream to be a Springbok,” enthused the Bok No.15, who was also asked about the merits of playing abroad at a young age. He replied: “You should become a Springbok before going overseas at a later stage.”

By Siya Mchunu 365 Digital

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