Jaque Fourie will fight for his spot in the Springbok team and says he hasn’t made a decision on an overseas move.
The Springbok centre has been made a lucrative offer by French club Clermont, with Saru doing everything in their power to keep Fourie in the country for the 2011 World Cup. He is still awaiting an offer from his province, the Golden Lions, but even with both contracts that will seem like pocket change due to the power of the euro.
Fourie said he would weigh up his options and base his decision on lifestyle choices as well as rugby reasons. Coach Peter de Villiers hasn’t hidden his preference for Adi Jacobs, but Fourie denied that this had led him to consider an overseas move.
‘I still think I’m the best outside centre in the world, that hasn’t changed,’ Fourie told keo.co.za. ‘It’s not about that competition or money, it’s also about broadening horizons. I’ve played six or seven seasons of Tri-Nations and Super 14 rugby.
‘It’s about seeing Europe and the world, as well as being with my wife every day – which I can’t do now as we’re away for six weeks. When you get married [Fourie's ceremony was on 30 May] and want to start a family, your priorities change. But I’m far from making a decision and if everything goes well I’ll stay.’
Although there are financial and lifestyle positives to an overseas move, Fourie is determined to remain committed to Bok rugby.
‘The contract that SA Rugby has offered me is great, I could stay here until 2011,’ he continued. ‘That could be my third World Cup, which is a great motivation. The Lions haven’t offered me anything yet, but I know they want me to stay and we’ll see what they bring to the table.’
Fourie’s centre partner Jean de Villiers has recently agreed a move to Limerick, but Fourie said his personal goals with the Boks could entice him to stay.
‘Jean has signed with Munster and it will be great to play the next couple of Tests alongside him. But for me, it would be an honour to be a legend of the game, like an Os du Randt. It’s also an aim to go on and play 100 Tests, not many guys can say that and we see the way Percy Montgomery is revered. I want to be an all-time great and be the best centre we’ve ever had. My heart is in South Africa.’
Shifting focus to Saturday’s match against the All Blacks, Fourie says his partnership with De Villiers - who he last played with in the 2007 World Cup opener against Samoa - will click immediately.
‘It makes it more special to be back with Jean and to start alongside him. It’s been easy to get used to one another again. We are professional rugby players, it’s our job and there should be no problems,’ he said.
The Kiwi midfield is also a strength and Fourie acknowledged the Boks would have to improve to down New Zealand.
‘We all know [Ma'a] Nonu, he loves the physical side of the game, and [Conrad] Smith also likes taking on defenders. We also enjoy the physical stuff though.
‘These are the top two teams [Australia and New Zealand] in the world and we want to measure ourselves against them, this is why we play. We want to play better rugby, we haven’t been on top form and we must improve.’
By Grant Ball, in Bloemfontein