Matfield to play in Bulls Super Rugby warm up

The Blue Bulls have finally confirmed that Victor Matfield will return to the playing field with the Pretoria Super Rugby franchise after signing a two year contract.

Matfield is one of the most decorated players in the history of South African rugby and after his final playing stint which ends after the 2015 season he will move into coaching.

Matfield is a former Springbok captain with 110 Test caps behind his name -only John Smit, with 111 caps, has played more Tests for South Africa. He also lead the Bulls to all three their Super Rugby titles, in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

The Blue Bulls Company have offered Matfield a contract for 2014 and 2015, which he has gladly accepted as he still harbours dreams of representing the Springboks.

The BBC have also been pro-active in securing Matfield’s signature as coach for 2016 and 2017 – a deal he agreed to after he was granted permission to return to the playing field after being part of the union’s coaching structures in 2013.

“To have someone with Victor’s experience available for selection, as well as his expertise on the training field, is a win-win situation for us,” said Frans Ludeke.

“He will not only add value as a senior player on the field, but will also continue to mentor younger players with his vast experience of rugby at all levels.

“Victor has been a superb servant of Springbok and Bulls rugby and he has shown on the training field in the last couple of months that he is still hungry to succeed at the top levels of the game.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has welcomed the news and said that he is very happy that Matfield had decided to make a return to playing the game after coaching at the Bulls last season.

“I have always maintained that we have a lack of depth at 5 lock and believed that Victor could still make a valuable contribution as a player,” said Meyer.

“I’m glad that Victor has decided to do put on his boots again and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action. He was not given any guarantees about Springbok selection. If he can show he still has what it takes to be a Springbok, he will be considered, along with every other player who is eligible to play for South Africa.

“Victor has put in a lot of hard work to get into playing shape again and I’m sure he will make a success of his return to the game. Our depth at lock in South Africa isn’t great. Experienced players such as Andries Bekker and Juandré Kruger are now playing abroad, while Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit have missed a fair amount of rugby in the last year because of injuries.

“Victor has always been a world-class rugby player and knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level – I’m sure he would not have made this decision had he known he would not be able to compete or believed he could be the best in his position again.

“We’ve seen in the past that players can make a successful return to rugby after a lengthy period on the sidelines. Jake White successfully brought back Os du Randt and Bob Skinstad, who both played a vital role when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in 2007. More recently Schalk Burger and Juan Smith both made a successful return from career-threatening injuries.”

Matfield will make his return to the field during Saturday’s match between the Bulls and the Stormers in Polokwane. He will play off the bench.

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