When the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby competition kicked off, it was Martin Bezuidenhout’s goal to reach the milestone of having amassed 50 caps this season.
When the Southern Kings take on Western Force at the nib Stadium in Perth on Sunday (kick-off at 08h05), the 27-year-old hooker will be eagerly awaiting an opportunity to get off the bench and onto the field to mark a half-century of Vodacom Super Rugby appearances.
The bulk of his 49 caps came from his time at the Emirates Lions, where he debuted in 2010, and the Stormers, before joining the Southern Kings.
“My goal has been to reach my 50th Vodacom Super Rugby cap this season,” Bezuidenhout said from Perth.
“And also, definitely, to remain injury free throughout the year and just taking it day by day, giving my best to the team.
“It has been a dream from a young age to play professional rugby. It is a massive achievement for me personally to have an opportunity to reach this 50th Vodacom Super Rugby appearance.
“Vodacom Super Rugby is the best competition in the world, and in saying that, it’s really a privilege for me to be living the dream and making a living out of doing something that I love so much.”
While having played 49 Vodacom Super Rugby matches so far will come with a number of memorable moments, Bezuidenhout’s career highlight comes from the time he lifted the domestic Currie Cup title with the Golden Lions in 2011.
The hooker is also relishing his time with the Southern Kings, where he has been plying his trade since last year.
“The highlight of my career is definitely winning the Currie Cup with the Lions in 2011. What made it even more special was having my family with me to celebrate that achievement,” the Klerksdorp-born hooker said.
“Being part of this good environment at the Southern Kings means a lot to me, especially the brotherhood we have created through my journey at the Kings. I love being part of this team.
What has kept Bezuidenhout going and motivated?
“The support from family my and fiancé, their presence and support for me throughout my career. They continuously inspire me to reach my goals.”
Bezuidenhout will be on the bench on Sunday when the Southern Kings take on Western Force.
Head coach Deon Davids confirmed on Friday that Wandile Mjekevu, who had been bracketed with Masixole Banda as backline backup, will be the man to provide backline cover from the bench.
Mjekevu will be making his first Vodacom Super Rugby appearance this year after nursing a foot injury since pre-season.
The Southern Kings team is:
BACKS: Malcolm Jaer, Yaw Penxe, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Cronje (c), Louis Schreuder.
FORWARDS: Ruaan Lerm (v/c), Andisa Ntsila, Chris Cloete, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Irne Herbst, Ross Geldenhuys, Michael Willemse, Schalk van der Merwe.
REPLACEMENTS: Martin Bezuidenhout, Chris Heiberg, Justin Forwood, Mzwanele Zito, Tyler Paul, Rick Schroeder, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Wandile Mjekevu.
The Western Force team is:
BACKS: Dane Haylett-Petty, Chance Peni, Marcel Brache, Billy Meakes, Alex Newsome, Jono Lance, Michael Ruru.
FORWARDS: Isi Naisarani, Matt Hodgson (c), Ross Haylett-Petty, Richie Arnold, Matt Philip, Tetera Faulkner, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Daley.
REPLACEMENTS: Heath Tessman, Pek Cowan, Shambeckler Vui, Richard Hardwick, Ben McCalman, Ian Prior, Luke Burton, Curtis Rona.