Celtic League - De Villiers heading home
Jean de Villiers will quit Munster at the end of the current season and return to South Africa in a bid to boost his World Cup chances.
The Springbok centre, who signed an initial one-year deal with the Irish club when he joined last September, will now return home to a yet-to-be-confirmed club.
His decision comes after consultations with the South African Rugby Union, who confirmed that players plying their trade outside the country will not be considered for selection ahead of next year's finals in
De Villiers told Munster's official website: "I feel this is perhaps my last opportunity to represent my country at the Rugby World Cup, and after consultation with SARU it has become clear that to qualify for selection players must be playing their rugby in South Africa in the season leading up to the competition."
The 28-year-old added: "I'm thoroughly enjoying my time here in Munster and I think it would be fair to say that had the RWC 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. For now, though, my entire focus is on the Celtc League and Heineken Cup campaigns. There's a lot of rugby to be played yet in the red shirt and I'm looking forward immensely to continuing my involvement with a great squad."
De Villiers, an integral part of the world champions' side before he left, missed the 2003 World Cup through a knee injury, and a bicep injury in the first match of the tournament four years later forced him to miss the remainder of the finals.
Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said: "Jean missed the 2003 World Cup through injury and played just 40 minutes in 2007. So his desire to represent his country in the most prestigious rugby competition is totally understandable.
"Jean made us aware of this scenario before he joined us last September. 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.
"While he will be a major loss, we fully respect his ambition and he will leave us at the end of the season with our very best wishes."