LEICESTER, 9 Oct – Namibia's most capped player, Johnny Redelinghuys, will hang up his boots after Sunday's Pool C match against Argentina.

The 31-year-old prop (pictured) will become the first man to represent the Welwitschias 50 times if he comes off the bench at Leicester City Stadium in his country’s final match of Rugby World Cup 2015.

He will not make it to number 51, having decided to bow out at the top to focus on his family and business.

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“It has been a long journey,” Redelinghuys said, at the team’s Leicester headquarters on Friday.

Personal sacrifice

“All the effort that I have put in and all the personal sacrifice over the years all boils down to this. This will be my last game. I’m hanging up the boots after this. Being able to end my amateur career on the world stage is the cherry on top.”

Such experiences are bittersweet for Redelinghuys who makes a 150km (93 mile) round trip at least three times a week to practise and play for his club Wanderers, and the national side, in Windhoek, all while running a construction business in Okahandja.

That commitment curtails the time he can spend with wife Crystal and young son Albert, and he is no doubt that the family pack must now take priority, as he retires from the club game too.

“No, I have known since last year, when we qualified, that I was going to hang my boots up after the World Cup,” Redelinghuys said when asked whether it had been a difficult decision.

Coming together

“I didn’t know if I was going to make 50 caps. It was always in the back of my mind, but luckily everything came together nicely.

“There is constant sacrifice. The time that I am supposed to spend with my family, I am on the road.

“My wife is alone at home all the time so she also has to sacrifice a lot. I think I owe it to her and my little boy to spend some time with them now.”

Coach Phil Davies believes Redelinghuys thoroughly deserves the 50-cap honour.

“His commitment to Namibian rugby has been incredible given his personal circumstances," he said. "Many times he leaves home at four in the morning to be at training at five. Then after a full day’s work he drives hundreds of kilometres from a construction site somewhere to be at the evening training sessions. I thank him for this and wish him all the very best for the match.”

Teammates Jacques Burger, Tinus Du Plessis and PJ Van Lill have formed something of a surrogate family for Redelinghuys throughout his rugby career.

Emotional afternoon

The four have played with or against each other ever since their school days and, with Burger having also bowed out, it is going to be an emotional afternoon in Leicester for players at the heart of Namibian rugby for the last three World Cups.

“When we sing the national anthem and all the guys just come together, it’s a big, massive enjoyment for me.

“This being the last one, knowing that all the good times and hard times are coming to an end is working the nerves a little bit more, not so much the nerves as the emotions, knowing it’s going to end now.

“To be able to represent your country as a group of friends was just the highlight of everything. It’s the end of an era for a lot of us.”

RNS jth/drh/co/sw