Looking ahead to Vodacom WP’s fixture this weekend against the Leopards at Newlands, many fans would not exactly call the clash one of the highlights of the ABSA Currie Cup season. Whilst the opposition on Saturday will no doubt prove a stern challenge to our boys, the fixture does not have the same history as games against the likes of the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Sharks.
There is however another reason this weekend, why many rugby fans in the Cape will be flocking to Newlands to watch the team. With the conclusion of the Vodacom Tri-Nations, Province welcome back several of their Springboks including Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon. However it is the return of former captain Jean de Villiers – who has not run out for the team in nearly two years – that will bring the most excitement for supporters.
Jean, in an interview with the Club Newlands ezine, admitted that he was delighted to be back after his year with Irish club Munster. He said: “It is fantastic to back in Cape Town. This is where I learnt all my rugby and I am really looking forward to getting back on to the Newlands field. The team is a little bit different from when I left, but I am so excited to be back playing in the Cape.”
Since the Bok centre left Cape Town, the team has enjoyed its fair share of success making a Currie Cup semi and Vodacom Super 14 final. De Villiers admits he has been impressed by what he saw of the team whilst he was in Europe: “I followed Province and Stormers as much as I could whilst I was away. It was fantastic watching the guys from Irelands and it was great to see them do so well. Sometimes you question whether you made the right choice, but I am just focusing now on this season and hopefully helping the team to even more success in the future.”
This Saturday, Jean will be lining up for the first time in Province colours alongside fellow Springbok Juan de Jongh. The two have already played together for the Green and Gold and De Villiers has nothing but praise for his young teammate. “Juan is a great player and I think he is one of South Africa’s best young players at the moment. Hopefully he can learn from myself and Jaque Fourie like I learnt from Robbie Fleck and De Wet Barry when I was younger. He is certainly a great talent for the future.”
Questions have been asked about Jean’s fitness levels, having not had a proper off-season since the end of 2008. The centre, however was quick to dispel this problem. “One of the reasons I moved to Europe was that they play less rugby so it gave me a chance to rest. I had several weeks without playing there and have not played that much rugby in 2010. I am raring to go and looking forward to this Saturday’s game.”
With the game not being shown on television, there is no excuse not to come down and cheer on the boys as Newlands welcomes home one of its most beloved sons!
WP jou lekker ding!
Check out a video interview with Jean and find out a little bit more about the man himself: