Jannie du Plessis says being able to play in South Africa again played a big role in his decision to join the Lions for the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Du Plessis is one of two veterans who will return to the country from France, with flank Willem Alberts also set to move to Johannesburg pending a medical.
The 37-year-old will add plenty of experience to the Lions front row, especially considering that the team has lost the likes of Ruan Dreyer, Jacques van Rooyen and Danie Mienie to overseas clubs.
Kitch Christie said: ‘Give me a strong tighthead and I’ll build you a strong team’. That is never truer than now with retired Springbok tighthead prop @julianred3 now heading up the Lions front-row factory in conjunction with another former Springbok Wessel Roux.#LionsPride pic.twitter.com/7jlovxhQHh
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) November 25, 2019
After plying his trade at Montpellier for the last five years, Du Plessis said he is thankful to the Lions for giving him the chance to return to South Africa.
‘What motivates me is the fact that this team embraced me,’ Du Plessis said. ‘I will give more of myself because of how close this team is with each other. Being able to play in my own country is also a big factor that will motivate me in the coming season.
‘This team has made me feel really welcome, which I appreciate. When you feel part of the team, you feel comfortable to do your best. So I can only thank the team for making me feel so at home here.
‘The management really knows what they are working towards. The recipe they are following are working for them and this team. I’ve actually learned a lot from everyone involved in this company.
‘I don’t think I’ve gone full circle,’ Du Plessis added. ‘It’s more the fact that it’s a miracle that I get an opportunity to play again. I’m so grateful for the Lions for giving me this opportunity. I’m going to do everything that I can to make this best of this.’