Springbok lock Victor Matfield believes that his return to the Bulls can help them regain their former glory and said his return to South Africa was more about the Springboks and not money.
Matfield, in a column in the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Sondag, revealed that it was not only English club Northampton Saints and French outfit Toulon who had offered big money for him to stay in Europe.
Rugby365 reports that also chasing his signature were French clubs Montpellier and Toulouse.
In the end his love for the country and the Blue Bulls brought him home, Matfield admits.
“My decision to sign for the Bulls should not be seen as a shock to anyone, because those who know me well, know my heart has always been at the Bulls, and if I ever had the chance to return, I would take it,” Matfield wrote in Sondag.
“Toulon is a wonderful place. The people have been very nice to me and my family and I still hope that I can help them win the Second Division [Pro D2] and gain promotion to the French First Division [Top 14].
“But my meeting with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has convinced me that he believes Springbok players should be in South Africa to try and plough something back into the country’s rugby structures.
“He believes that players should be role models for the youth and my chat with him last month was one of the major reasons why I decided to come back to South Africa.”
Matfield said that the decision was never about money. It has been speculated that his ZAR3-million contract was far less than the ZAR5.6-million offered by Northampton and a bigger amount by Toulon, but that he decided to return home anyway for less cash.
“It didn’t ever amount to money. I had a few options and the money at other clubs was always more than the Bulls offered me. My heart is still in South Africa and I wanted to come home,” he added.
“I really considered going to Toulouse. They are a good team and would have offered me the opportunity to play Heineken Cup rugby. Then there was also Montpellier where a number of the former Blue Bulls are. Northampton offered me something completely different and it was to try and build something similar to what we built under Heyneke Meyer at the Bulls.”
Matfield also had some words of wisdom for his former lock partner Bakkies Botha, who has taken the Bulls to court to try and nullify his contract so that he can take up a big money offer in Toulon.
“I have heard about Bakkies’ case. I naturally want to play again with him in the same team, but I believe that he will make the right choice for him and his family, whatever that may be.”
Matfield added that if he is selected for the Springboks, he would be home in a matter of week.Tweet