JdV set to bid farewell to SA

Date published: August 7 2015

Springbok captain Jean De Villiers has admitted that Saturday's Test against Argentina in Durban will probably be his last on home soil.

Reminiscing on his illustrious career, De Villiers said he has very fond memories of Durban as the first time he donned the captain's arm band was at Kings Park.

"It was here (in Umhlanga Rocks) that I addressed a press conference as Springbok captain for the first time in 2012," he said.

"Coming back here is special, and wearing the Bok jersey is always special, as everyone keeps saying. It’s been a long road back for me but by making it to this point I think I’ve proved what can be achieved by hard work."

Leading the Springboks for the first time since his horrific injury in November 2014, the 34-year-old is delighted to finally be back in contention for a starting spot, especially since he is in the twilight of his career.

"Injuries have helped shape me into the person I am today," said De Villiers.

"I think they may have helped me as much as they have hindered me for that reason. But my objective now is the same as every other player.

"I've got to perform well enough to make the 30 man. The injury is in the past now and it is time to stop thinking about it. I’ve made my comeback and I am not injured anymore."

The 106-capped Springbok also hopes that the next generation of South African hopefuls can make the step up and take over from the aging players in the squad.

The Springbok captain noted that new centre pairing of Damian De Allende and Jesse Kriel reminded him of a young Jacque Fourie and himself back in their early days.

"The youngsters have been unbelievable," he added.

"It reminded me of the position I was in when Jaque Fourie and I first played together."

"Sometimes fielding two great players together doesn’t work as they don’t combine well, but it was pleasing to see the smooth functioning of that young midfield. We’ve grown some impressive depth in the squad suddenly and now it is a question of who to leave out of the team rather than who to select."

De Villiers added that the players in the Springbok squad will want to use their opportunities in the coming weeks to push for inclusion in the Rugby World Cup squad.

"The competition for places is good and it is something that excites me ahead of the World Cup," he added.

"No-one can afford to relax. Every player has to make use of every playing opportunity. If you don’t, you won’t make it. We have a really exciting backline and an exciting team as a whole."

As De Villiers says farewell to South Africa on Saturday, the veteran will definitely be hoping to return holding the Web Ellis trophy and parade it one last time in his homeland.

Meanwhile, South African cricketer Hashim Amla, who was the first South African to score 300 runs in a Test, has wished De Villiers and the rest of the team good luck when he handed them their jerseys for their final home game of the season against the Pumas.

The batsman is a staunch Bok supporter who will be rooting for them when they jet off to England for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"My blood is green and so is everyone else’s in the Protea team," said Amla.

"We know exactly how hard and tough the world of international sport is – we know how it goes when you do well and when you lose. My Protea team-mates are extremely envious of me for being able to spend time with you.

"But I’d like to let you know that we’re behind you 100% and we'd like to wish you well for the rest of the season. You guys play for the best rugby team in the world and you inspire the Protea fire."