Jean de Villiers is happy. He's in a winning Bok team, his form is great, and he say's this is the happiest Bok side he has been part of.
With an International career that threatened to be curtailed before it began with a horror run of injuries, Jean has changed his approach these days and plays every game as if it will be his last, which has made every game mean so much more.
Whilst he departs for Munster at the end of the Tri-nations, his departure from the Springbok side may only be temporary.
Jean has had a horror run at Rugby World Cups, sustaining a Shoulder injury prior to the 2003 Rugby World Cup, and then sustaining a shattering bicep tear in the Springbok's opening World Cup fixture against Samoa. Jean told me that his involvement with the 2007 World Cup Winning Springbok side allowed him to have "...been there but haven't really experienced anything."
He's played for the Boks under three different coaching regimes, and states that this Springbok side is the happiest he's known. With his departure to Munster, effectively ruling him out of Springbok selection due to Peter de Villiers desire to only select South African based players, is this Saturday his last game in Australia?
When reminded that it is likely to be his last game in Australia, Jean replied "Ja, obviously it is my last game this year, but hopefully not the last always. Hopefully I can be back and play again in Australia."
Jean clearly indicated that he desperately wants to fulfil his ambition of playing at a World Cup, in 2011, and experience the sensation of contributing to a Springbok victory on a Rugby players ultimate stage. Jean said "I've got a contract for 1 year, with the option of another 2 years." It clearly shows that no firm decisions have been made, and Jean doesn't want to give up his Springbok jersey permanently.
He has also stated that he may still play in Australia, and New Zealand. Sometimes a change can do a player the World of good. A chance to experience a new culture, get away from the constant limelight and re-evaluate what is important. We've seen it with John Smit and Victor Matfield. The desire to play for the Springboks, in my view may simply be too strong.
Jean said "Especially with the team doing so well at the moment, it's such a happy team, it's such a great atmosphere to be part of, it's definitely something I'll miss if I'm not part of it anymore." It shows how hard it'll be for Jean to walk away from, and with further ambitions still to fulfil we may even see Jean return to South Africa after one season at Munster, in time for next year's Tri-nations!
My gut feeling is that this isn't the last time we'll see Jean de Villiers playing in Australia, or for the Springboks. At only 28, there is a burning ambition to play at a World Cup and remain with an all-conquering Springbok side that none of the current players wants to walk away from. Expect to see a revitalised Jean de Villiers this time next year for the Springboks!