Jean puts dampener on European dreams

Springbok centre Jean de Villiers is having second thoughts about joining former Heineken Cup champions Munster. [more]

Jean puts dampener on European dreams

Springbok centre Jean de Villiers is having second thoughts about joining former Heineken Cup champions Munster.

The Stormers’ skipper is understood to have been close to signing with the Irish province to take over the senior midfield role being vacated this summer by Rua Tipoki. 

But now the 28-year-old, who has also been courted by clubs in Japan, France and England, is said to be having second thoughts about leaving South Africa. 

The lure of potentially becoming captain of the Springboks as they look to defend their Rugby World Cup title in New Zealand in 2011is making last year’s SA Rugby Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year have second thoughts about a move to Europe. 

This week his agent, Stan Matthews, claimed de Villiers was “leaning towards” remaining in Cape Town and putting on the back burner any potential move to Munster. 

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“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. 

“Jean is passionate about rugby in this country and he loves playing for the Stormers, Western Province and, of course, the Springboks. He has an ambition of becoming the next Springbok captain.

“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.” 

Former Springbok centre Trevor Halstead helped Munster win the Heineken Cup for the first time in 2006 and the Paul O’Connell’s side need an experienced campaigner to slot in alongside Liefemi Mafi in their midfield next season. 

While de Villiers would have provided the perfect answer, it now looks as though Munster will have to look elsewhere.

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