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De Villiers handed central contract

Springbok centre Jean de Villiers is amongst a group of five new players handed central contracts by the South African Rugby Union for 2011.

The Western Provinces centre, who missed out on a deal last year after signing a contract with Irish club Munster, joins club team-mates Juan de Jongh and front rower CJ van der Linde as well as props Gurthro Steenkamp and Jannie du Plessis from the Bulls and Sharks respectively.

The quintet are the only new faces in the 23-man list, which includes no fewer than 16 World Cup winners and eight players with more than 50 Test caps.

Captain John Smit and his deputy Victor Matfield, the only two centurions, are also amongst - the pair being among 13 players awarded with two-year-deals at the start of 2010.

Andries Bekker, Heinrich Brussow, Bismarck du Plessis, Adrian Jacobs, Tendai Mtawarira, Wynand Olivier, Danie Rossouw and Morne Steyn were given one-year deals last year with extensions added after excelling over the past 12 months.

Speaking in Johannesburg, coach Peter de Villiers warned the 23 men not to take their contracts as a selection hint for the World Cup finals in New Zealand later this year.

He said: "We began discussing contracts with a second group of players last year and we obviously believe they have the capability to make the Rugby World Cup squad.

"Those contracts have now been finalised but the priority for us is to take the best, in-form players to the tournament and these players are aware that inclusion in this group is no guarantee of a World Cup place for them."

The contracted players are: Bryan Habana (Western Province), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Jaque Fourie (Western Province), Wynand Olivier (Bulls), Adrian Jacobs (Sharks), Jean de Villiers (Western Province), Juan de Jongh (Western Province) Morne Steyn (Bulls) Fourie du Preez (Bulls) Pierre Spies (Bulls), Juan Smith (Cheetahs), Schalk Burger (Western Province), Heinrich Brussow (Cheetahs), Bakkies Botha (Bulls), Victor Matfield (Bulls), Andries Bekker (Western Province) Danie Rossouw (Bulls), John Smit (Sharks) Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Gurthro Steenkamp (Bulls), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), CJ van der Linde (Western Province), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks).


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