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Munster’s future will centre on De Villiers

By Peter Bills

Munster are believed to have secured Springbok World Cup winning centre Jean de Villiers on a two-year contract.

Reports in Johannesburg suggest that De Villiers is set to join the Irish province later this year, once he has finished the Tri-Nations with South Africa.

He is believed to have agreed a lucrative deal that will keep him at Thomond Park until May 2011, just a few months before the next World Cup.

If the reports are correct, it would be a major coup for Munster.

De Villiers is one of the most sought after backs in world rugby, the mastermind of the Springbok back line and a pedigree performer.

If he does come to Thomond Park, he would follow in the path of another South African, Trevor Halstead, who had several season in Irish rugby and played a major role in helping Munster to Heineken Cup glory.

It is said that the deal with De Villiers has been agreed but kept under wraps until the end of the current Test series with the British and Irish Lions which concludes this Saturday with the Third Test in Johannesburg.

The player had hoped to keep it quiet until much later in the year when the Tri-Nations was over.

But although no official word has been released, either from Ireland or South Africa, the reports insist the deal is almost certain to go ahead and De Villiers would begin his new career later in the year.

If so, it remains to be decided whether he would be available for the Springboks’ end of year tour to the northern hemisphere.

One coach of worldwide repute said: “I have certainly heard whispers to this effect.

“If it’s true, Munster will be getting a gem.

“De Villiers is the key to the entire Springbok back line. He’s a superb player of world quality and class.”

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