Albert van den Berg doesn't strike you as the typical Springbok lock forward. His gangly frame is not in the muscular mould of a Bakkies Botha or Victor Matfield.
However, the 33-year-old, 48-Test veteran is one of the key components of South African coach Jake White's overall World Cup plan in France.
Van den Berg, who confirmed that 2007 is his international swansong and the World Cup his final bid for some international silverware, would have played at flank against Tonga in Lens on Sunday - until an untimely calf injury ruled out Sharks team-mate Johann Muller.
Now Van den Berg will make his contribution to the Bok cause from the second row, where he played 47 of his previous 48 Tests. He had 10 minutes as a flank replacement in the second Test against England at Twickenham in November 2006.
Before that his last appearance on the side of the scrum was for Griquas in domestic competitions in the 1996 and '97 seasons.
However, whether he plays on the flank or at lock, for Van den Berg it is about making sure the Springbok machine steams ahead towards it's ultimate goal - victory in the World Cup Final.
And then he will retire from the international scene and play two seasons of Super 14 and Currie Cup rugby for the Sharks - a decision that bucks the trend of many South African players who see out their final years in European competitions.
"Yes, this it is my last World Cup and my last year for the Springboks," Van den Berg told this website.
Having been a member of the Bok squad at the 1999 World Cup, but then missed out on selection in 2003, just to be in France is already a huge treat for the 2.01m tall lock.
"I may not be in the starting 22 or the top 22, but just to be here and be back-up if somebody gets injured is already a real honour just to be here.
"Just to stand in if something happens, like now with Johann [Muller] already makes it all worthwhile," he said.
Van den Berg confirmed that he has signed a two-year contract to continue playing for the Sharks, but the demands of international rugby has become too much of a strain on his family.
"The children are growing up and it is really difficult for them when I'm away from home for such a long time.
"It is just a lot easier to play for the Sharks, where you are away only once a year in the Super 14 for a month.
"When you play for the Boks, even though you are in Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Cape Town, you are constantly away from home and it becomes really difficult for the children."
Having made up his mind about quitting international rugby, Van den Berg is determined to make his swansong a golden one.
"It is a real highlight for me to finish at the World Cup, especially now that we have a really good chance of winning the World Cup.
"It would be ideal to finish as a World Cup winner," he added.
Van den Berg said he was looking forward to playing on the flank against Tonga this coming Saturday, but accepts that his services are now needed in another department.
"It would have been a huge adjustment [to play on the flank]. When I heard I was going to play flank, I went to Juan [Smith, Bok blindside flank] and asked him to help me and tell me what to do - where do I go for second phase, third phase, just so I can get an idea of what to do.
"But just to start a game in the World Cup, be that flank or lock, is a great honour.
"The guys are doing very well [after victories over Samoa and England] and we don't want to loose momentum."
The success of the Boks had a very rewarding spin-off for the players, who were allowed a timeout with their wives and girlfriends for two days after last Friday's record 36-0 whitewash of England.
"Jake [White, the Bok coach] hs done really well to ensure that the wives and girlfriends are here for the next two weeks and to keep the guys happy," Van den Berg said.
"Because England was such a big game, he gave the guys time out because it was eight days to the next game [against Tonga].
"His timing was really good, because when they leave there are three weeks of the World Cup left and the guys are all very happy about that."
The players and their spouses, or girlfriends, had Saturday and Sunday to explore the sights and sounds of France, one of the most culturally rich countries in the world.
A large number of the Springboks and their companions went to Eurodisney in Paris. Others went to explore some of Paris' other delights and one or two - like captain John Smit - went to go visit the clubs they would join after the World Cup.
Van den Berg described his weekend out with his wife as "like a second honeymoon" and said it was just the right tonic the guys needed.
The players, most of them, also watched South Africa's cricket team beat England in the Twenty20 World Cup tournament in South Africa at the weekend.
The two groups had met up before the Boks' departure for France, but now the contact between the two groups is very limited - because of their busy schedules.
"John Smit [the Bok captain] is more in contact with Graeme [Smith, SA cricket captain], but most of us don't have much contact," Van den Berg said.
- Jan de Koning