MUNSTER centre Jean de Villiers will leave the province and return to South Africa at the end of the current season.
The 28-year-old confirmed his decision yesterday, stating that his desire to play for the Springboks at the 2011 World Cup had been the primary factor in the decision.
De Villiers missed the entire 2003 World Cup through injury and managed just 40 minutes in the 2007 tournament.
"I feel this is perhaps my last opportunity to represent my country at the World Cup and after consultation with SARU it has become clear that, to qualify for selection, players must be playing in South Africa in the season leading up to the competition.
"I'm thoroughly enjoying my time here in Munster and I think it would be fair to say that had the World Cup not been a factor, then I would be remaining for at least the next two seasons. I would not rule out returning here after RWC 2011 either, if the opportunity arose."
De Villiers only arrived at Munster in mid-September and initially struggled to settle in and was confined to the bench for the back-to-back Heineken Cup matches with Perpignan before Christmas.
"Jean made us aware of this scenario before he joined us last September," Munster Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald said.
"He has been a hugely positive addition to the squad this season. His influence has grown and continues to grow as he becomes more and more comfortable within the squad."