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De Villiers ‘leaning towards staying’

Written by Wesley Weber (wpw)

Posted in :2009 Lions Tour, In the news, Springboks, Stormers on 13 May 2009 at 13:25
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Stormers and Springbok star Jean de Villiers is “leaning towards” staying in South Africa because of “unfinished business” with the Boks as well as his ambition to be the next Springbok captain.

Ashfak Mohamed reports in the Cape Times:

That was the message from De Villiers’s agent Stan Matthews on Tuesday. There has been widespread speculation that De Villiers was set to move either to Irish club Munster or one of several clubs in France or even England.

“Jean has not made a final decision yet but he is leaning towards staying in South Africa,” said Matthews. “He’s had so many disappointments at World Cups with injuries. The 2011 tournament is not too far away so he is leaning towards having a good build-up towards that by staying in South Africa and playing for the Stormers and Springboks.”

Matthews says that De Villiers’s desire to become the next Springbok captain is as strong as ever.

“We know John Smit is the captain now but we don’t know what will happen in the next two years leading up to the World Cup and after that,” he said.

“Jean has an ambition of becoming the next Springbok captain. He has a good relationship with Peter. There is also a big Lions series coming up soon and the Tri-Nations after that. Jean wants to do well in that.”

De Villiers, who is one of the world’s most creative players, has been given a greater leadership role in the Bok backline and relished the responsibility.

He excelled during an injury-free 2008 season where he played a mammoth 32 games in total. He received due recognition by claiming the SA Rugby Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards.

De Villiers has reportedly received big-money offers from all over the world but Matthews said that financial considerations were not the most important factor for the Bok centre.

“Jean is passionate about rugby in this country,” he said. “He loves playing for the Stormers, Western Province and, of course, the Springboks.

“He has always stated that he would like to have a different rugby experience overseas but he still has a lot of unfinished business in this country.

“It is not about the money. Clubs in Japan have offered Jean serious money to play there, much more than he will get in Europe, but he knows that the standard of rugby there is not high enough.

“He knows that he will get a real rugby experience in Europe and play in top-level competitions and with some of the best players in the world.”

Matthews said De Villiers wouldn’t make a decision on his future without consulting the Bok coach or the Stormers management.

“Jean has been well-looked after by SA Rugby and Western Province so he would sit down with Peter and WP Rugby managing director Rob Wagner before deciding on anything,” he said.

Meanwhile De Villiers and Andries Bekker are unlikely to play in the Stormers’ final Super 14 match of the season against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Stormers media manager Frikkie Erasmus said on Tuesday both players would be given until Wednesday before a final decision was made.

“They didn’t train with the team on Tuesday,” he said. “They are two important players so coach Rassie Erasmus is giving them as much time as possible to be ready.”

The Cheetahs, though, will definitely be without scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn, who was yesterday suspended for three weeks by Sanzar for a “dangerous tackle” on Bulls wing Akona Ndungane on Saturday.

In other Western Province news, Lions lock Cobus “Varkhond” Grobler could join WP in time for the Currie Cup. It is believed that Grobler could sign with WP next week, after the Super 14 competition is completed.

WP are desperate to bolster their second-row resources as AJ Venter will retire at the end of the Super 14, while Bekker is likely to be in the Bok squad for the Lions series. Adriaan Fondse is also still injured and may be back a few weeks into the Currie Cup while George Earle is in a similar conundrum.

Grobler has not featured for the Lions Super 14 team in the 2009 competition but is an experienced player, having made his senior Vodacom Cup debut for the Lions in 2002. He has played Super 14 rugby for the Cheetahs (2006) and Lions (2007 and 2008).

Grobler was also part of the Emerging Springbok side under Chester Williams that won the 2008 IRB Nations Cup in Romania last year.


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