Springbok captain Jean de Villiers should be back in the starting lineup when South Africa battle Argentina at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI, in Pretoria, reports.
The Boks’ inspirational skipper missed the three Tests in June due to a serious knee injury, and has been managed carefully in the weeks leading up to the Rugby Championship. There were some doubts that he may not be ready for the opening clash with Argentina, doubts that were allayed by the Bok medical team on Monday.
‘He hasn’t taken on a full workload over the past week or so, but I can confirm that he is in the final stages of his rehab,’ said team doctor Craig Roberts. ‘I’ve been very happy with his progress.’
The return of De Villiers should offset the loss of Victor Matfield, at least from a leadership point of view. The No 5 lock, who led the Boks this past June in De Villiers’s absence, has already been ruled out of the game at Loftus Versfeld due to a knee cartilage injury.
When asked whether Matfield could feature at a later stage in the tournament, or even next week in Salta, Roberts replied in an upbeat manner.
‘He’s responded well to rest and rehab. The good news is that he didn’t need a scope on his knee to clean the cartilage out. We will reassess him next week to see if he can be ready for the game in Argentina.’
It’s yet to be confirmed who will fill the void at No 5, although Bok forwards coach Johann van Graan said on Monday that Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, and even Duane Vermeulen had been sharing the responsibility of calling the lineouts at training.
The Bok team to play Argentina will be announced on Wednesday.
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