From Maggots to Boks
The only rugby Andrew Hore has played this year has been for the Maniototo Maggots, so the clash with the Springboks will be something of a step up.
The only rugby Andrew Hore has played this year has been for his local club side the Maniototo Maggots, so the clash with the Springboks will be something of a step up.
The grizzled All Blacks hooker retired from the game at the end of last year, and has been working on his family's South Island farm since then, with his only loyalty to the 'mighty Maggots'.
Although he did get a hit-out against a virtual fourth-string England side for the Barbarians last week, he knows that fronting up to the Boks again will be another matter entirely.
"I have been playing for the mighty Maniototo side in a small country town, so I think playing the Springboks is going to be a bit of a step up.
"We had a bit of fun last week playing for the Barbarians, but here at Newlands we have had our meeting and it is a little bit more serious than what we were doing over there.
"My fitness is not that great actually, but hopefully the adrenalin will kick in and I can do myself proud and help the team out," he said.
With the lack of depth at hooker still a concern for the All Blacks, there has been talk of Hore making a return to the Test arena, and he admitted that playing for the Barbarians and World XV has got his competitive juices flowing again although a Test comeback is still fairly unlikely.
"I have really enjoyed the last week and hopefully this week will be the same, there are a few special things you can't get back when you retire from rugby like sitting in the changeroom after a game and chatting with your mates.
"So it has got the blood flowing again but when you get out there and I am puffed and when I am on the plane flying home on Sunday and my body is a wreck I will be happy that I am a farmer now," he said.
Hore will be up against some familiar faces in the Springbok tight five this weekend, with the Du Plessis brothers waiting to greet him again at scrum-time and Victor Matfield looking to steal his line-out ball.
He is looking forward to the challenge of taking on fellow farmers Jannie and Bismarck before catching up over a cold one after the game.
"You don't want to go half-hearted against Bismarck and his big brother, he helps him out as well when he is getting scared so it is a hard-case combination.
"That is one thing about coming over here a lot of times, you get to know a few people and we are pretty serious on the track but afterwards we can shake hands and catch up," Hore said.
He admitted that he is not looking forward to throwing into the line-out with Matfield waiting to pounce and joked that he might have to close his eyes.
"I had enough time in the All Blacks up against Victor and he is a special player to come back after two years and get back into the Springbok side it shows what kind of character he is as well.
"Just close your eyes and get it in there and hopefully we have got some ways around it, he can't jump in all the spots but he does make line-outs hard," he added.
This may well be the last time Hore plays at this level, although you can bet that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will be watching with interest to see what sort of impact he is able to make in the second half at Newlands.
By Michael de Vries