Cape Town – Call him the “mini-Matfield” of South African
rugby, if you like.
Although long-time Springbok team-mate Victor Matfield
probably takes the cake, considering that he remains a lively presence for
Northampton at age 38, Jean de Villiers has hinted that he could push his own
first-class career into his 37th year if he extends his current deal
with Aviva Premiership club Leicester Tigers.
Should he do so, he would probably be reacquainted with
another green-and-gold stalwart in JP Pietersen, who has agreed terms there
from next season (2016/17) after a swansong Super Rugby campaign with the
Sharks, who he first represented in 2006.
The often cruelly injury-jinxed De Villiers, who quit Test
rugby after breaking his jaw again when he led the Boks in their World Cup pool
match against Samoa at Villa Park a few months ago, has told a local newspaper
his appetite for the game stays healthy.
That is despite the fact that the 109-cap international
midfielder has not yet begun his own English campaign as he awaits the medical
go-ahead to debut for the Tigers; they lie fourth on the table with seven wins
from nine matches thus far.
De Villiers turns 35 on February 24, but has been reported
in the Leicester Mercury (www.leicestermercury.co.uk)
as saying: “I am mentally preparing myself for retirement from rugby after six
months (the duration of his present deal with the club – Sport24) but I am not
ruling out playing on.
“I have always said that if I am enjoying my rugby and my
body can hold up, I will keep playing because it is a game I love so much.
“Down the line, I will see where it takes me. If I do decide
to stay on, we will have to see whether it is here or not ... that’s a decision
that the club and I will have to set down and make together if there is an
He also spoke of how seamlessly his family had settled in
after joining him in the English midlands city.
“(De Villiers’s wife and three children) arrived recently;
they have settled well and the kids are enjoying it.
“The community has been fantastic to us and have been over
to welcome us. I only have good things to say about Leicestershire at the