Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Friday welcomed Victor Matfield’s return after it was confirmed that the 110-times capped lock would be back on the playing field in Vodacom Super Rugby for the Vodacom Bulls this season.
Matfield, who played his last Test for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011, captained the Pretoria-based franchise to all three their titles in Vodacom Super Rugby, in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Meyer said he was 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.”