Matfield ends retirement to sign for Bulls
January 31, 2014
Matfield has 110 caps for the Springboks © Getty Images
Victor Matfield has signed a deal for the 2014 and 2015 Super Rugby seasons with the Bulls.
His comeback from retirement has been in the pipeline since November, with contractual disagreements delaying a confirmation until this week. It is expected Matfield will use two seasons of Super Rugby to earn a spot on Heyneke Meyer's World Cup squad for 2015.
Matfield last played for the Springboks at the 2011 World Cup and Meyer has welcomed the return of the lock.
"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."
The lock will start from the bench for Saturday's match between the Bulls and the Stormers in his home town Polokwane.
"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," added Bulls coach 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."
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