JEAN de VILLIERS has revealed his impending departure from South Africa has left him cherishing his final Tri-Nations appearances even more.
The Springbok centre, who will join Munster after the competition, could play his penultimate game for the world champions against Australia in Brisbane tomorrow when his team will look to seal the title.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) have a policy of not selecting players plying their trade abroad, which means the 28-year-old will surrender his chance of representing his country, unless he decides to return home in the future.
“For me, going away after the Tri-Nations and ending the tournament on a high would be great,” he said. “This team is fantastic, awesome guys and it’s been great to be a part of it.
“It means so much more when you pull on the jersey and it flashes in the back of your mind that your last game for the Springboks is close. It’s made me change my approach and I’m just enjoying playing a lot. Last week was definitely my best performance of the year.
“It will be my last game in Australia, hopefully not for always, and the big thing is to reproduce last week’s form again this week. I haven’t scored a try for a long time.”
That “last week” the midfielder was referring to saw the Springboks walk all over the Wallabies in Perth, before eventually winning 32-25.
The 52-capped De Villiers, who was especially impressive in the win, is now set to line up alongside Jaque Fourie, the fifth South African player that will cross the 50 Test mark this year, at the SunCorp Stadium.
And he admits he still has hope of turning out in the green and gold, with the possibility also of making a playing return to the country at some point in the future. He continued: “The coach has got a policy of not selecting overseas players and rightly so. So I will need to keep strong, try and play good rugby and get selected hopefully in the future.
“I have a one-year deal with an option to sign for two more years, which we’ll look at in February/March. The 2011 World Cup is obviously a factor. But it’s still a long way off and I don’t like to make decisions too far in the future because you never know what the future holds.
“All I can do is play my best and hope. But being with a team that is playing so well, that is so happy, it’s great just to be a part of it and I will definitely miss it.”
De Villiers also hailed the current Springbok team, saying they were still hungry for more despite moving to within touching distance of lifting the Tri-Nations trophy for the first time since 2004.
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