Star Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is "grateful" to his French club Toulon for allowing him to return home during the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, Etzebeth said he was nearly left stranded in France but made it back to South Africa just in time before the country went into a 21-day lockdown.
Toulon were initially not keen to release their players because it was believed that the Top 14 would only be on hold for a short period.
However, once the coronavirus reached crisis levels, Etzebeth was allowed to return home on landed in Cape Town on Tuesday, 24 March - two days before South Africa went into lockdown.
Etzebeth is spending the lockdown period with family, with parents Harry and Karen, girlfriend Ashley Rothman - and brother Ryen and his wife Letitia - all staying at the Springbok's home in Cape Town.
"It's important for me to be with family. I look after my family... My dad's health is also not the best - he was diagnosed with cancer about three years ago and survived, but with the world going mad with a disease like this, you never know what's going to happen," Etzebeth said.
The burly lock said he would like to show his gratitude to Toulon upon his return to France.
"I can only be grateful to Toulon for allowing me to come home. Hopefully, when I get back, I can repay them with my performances on the field."
The 28-year-old has been on Toulon's books since last year, having played for the Stormers between 2012 and 2019.
The World Cup winner has played 85 Tests since making his international debut against England in Durban in 2012.