R4m for 6 months for Matfield

2007-06-20 22:01

Durban - Victor Matfield has been named as South Africa's 52nd rugby captain. But his appointment on Wednesday coincided with news that the star lock forward may become one of the game's best paid players by joining French club Toulon next year.

Matfield will lead the Springboks against New Zealand in the Tri-Nations Test here on Saturday, taking over the reins from injured skipper John Smit.

However, the news that will really make waves is that he has signed a letter of intent to join Toulon for six months - for about R4 million.

Despite being named as new Springbok captain, Matfield was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

The president of the Toulon club has confirmed Matfield's letter. The player's agent, Jason Smith, also told Stephen Nell that "Victor has agreed to join Toulon for six months, starting on January 1, 2008.

"He has an option of extending the contract by another year but will still be available to play for the Springboks," Smith added.

SA Rugby has relaxed its previously strictly applied rule that players must play in the Currie Cup competition to be considered for the national team.

Major recruitment drive

Matfield should therefore be able to fulfil his dream of playing against the British and Irish Lions when they tour South Africa in 2009.

He has played Test rugby against all other top-notch teams.

It has been learnt confidentially that Matfield will be paid a gross salary of about R4m for the six months at Toulon.

Barend van Graan, acting CEO of the Blue Bulls Company, was unwilling to comment on the reports on Wednesday.

Toulon, with former Cats coach Tim Lane in charge, failed to gain promotion to the French first league during the past season. Now they have embarked upon a major recruitment drive.

They have already signed contracts with former All Blacks Tana Umaga (as coach), Andrew Mehrtens (flyhalf) and Anton Oliver (hooker).

Wallaby captain and scrumhalf George Gregan and Springbok prop Lawrence Sephaka are also on their way to join Blue Bulls and Springbok prop Wessel Roux at Toulon.

Springboks Gary Botha and Pedrie Wannenburg, both from the Blue Bulls, have been linked to Brive and Perpignan respectively.

Morris Gilbert reports that another Bulls lock forward, Francois van Schouwenburg, is considering an offer from Brive.