The Vodacom Bulls scum half, Fourie du Preez, on Wednesday extended his contract with the union till the conclusion of the Super 15 competition in 2011.
SA Rugby reports that Du Preez, who turns 28 next week, also signed his Springbok contract that will keep him in Green and Gold till the end of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.
He will then join a club side in Japan.
Du Preez, who made his debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in 2001 and for the Vodacom Bulls in 2003, wants to end his successful relationship with the Bulls on a high.
“These were the best rugby years of my life and I could never have played for another union. By revealing my plans for the future now, it will give the Bulls sufficient time to plan for the future and possible successors. There is already some excellent players like Francois Hougaard knocking on the door, so it is time to move on,” Du Preez said.
“I was happy to be involved with the Bulls during arguable the best era they have ever had. It remains a massive honor to be part of the structures started and maintained by world class coaches such as Heyneke Meyer and Frans Ludeke. The leadership of Victor Matfield and the bond between the team members is also something I will always treasure. There is still time for me to add value and it is something I look forward to.”
With regards to the national side, Du Preez indicated that the joy he had playing for the Springboks in 2009, made it easy to commit himself to the national cause till after the World Cup.
“There is the chance to play in another World Cup, but also the knowledge that I will enjoy the experience. Last season was the most enjoyable I have had in the Bok jersey and think Peter de Villiers deserve a lot of credit for that. I feel we have the experience and core group in the team to make a serious run at the Webb Ellis trophy again,” Du Preez said.
His decision to play in Japan was equally easy to make, he said.
“After 11 years at the Bulls, I am affording myself the opportunity to change the scenery and to expose myself to a different culture. This contract will allow me that,” Du Preez said.
“I think I can learn a lot and broaden my horizons in the game at the same time, which will help should I opt for a career in coaching later on in my life.”
Ludeke indicated that Du Preez’s decision will leave them with enough time to start a succession plan.
“Again Fourie did not only act in his own interests, but thought of the team as well. As one of the architects of the success the Bulls enjoyed in recent years, his input in our planning will be highly valued and it is nice to know he will be around for a while still. I know he had many offers and options, but he again showed his commitment to the Bulls.
Ludeke said investment in possible replacements will start soon.
“Fourie is a student of the game and will help in the process to indentify and bring the right successors through,” Ludeke said.
Fourie du Preez facts:
Vodacom Blue Bulls (debut, 2001 vs Leopards). 51 matches, 100 points.
Vodacom Bulls (debut, 2003 vs Brumbies). 89 matches, 90 points.
South Africa (debut, 2004 vs Ireland). 55 tests, 65 points.