Springbok lock Lood de Jager has opened up on the succession of injuries that put him in a race against time to face the British & Irish Lions and his recovery process.
De Jager broke his tibia (shinbone), damaged his ankle and tore the medial meniscus in his knee in a training ground accident back in April – the latest of a string of injuries to befall the Springbok lock.
The 28-year-old’s time on the park has also been limited by three successive shoulder injuries, one of which was suffered during the 2019 World Cup final against England.
His latest setback had put him in a race against time to prove his fitness for the upcoming Lions series, which gets under way next month.
Speaking to Jamie Lyall in a wide-ranging interview published on TheXV, De Jager explained how his latest injury occurred.
“It was a freak accident. I was jumping for the ball, landed awkwardly with my studs in the ground and a guy fell on it,” De Jager said. “You could just hear the break. My first reaction was, I jumped up and just shouted, ‘No!’ twice. Hard. Loud. I was shocked. Especially with my injury history.
“I’d worked really hard to get back from my shoulder injury, get back in the rhythm again, play a couple of games and get my confidence back, and then this happens.”
De Jager admitted that his terrible luck on the injury front made him question how his life would be after rugby, once he decides to hang up his boots.
“You just question how many times can you go through this,” he says. “There’s life after rugby as well. With my shoulders, I want to be able to throw a ball to my kids and do the normal day-to-day things. But luckily with how the procedures are, they told me there was no need to panic, that a couple of other rugby players have had the same thing happen to them.”
Positively, De Jager said he was making good progress with his recovery.
“I don’t want to make any promises or get ahead of myself,” he says. “I’m running, did some scrums, so I’m feeling good.”
In the latest update, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said there was a chance that De Jager could make his comeback for Sale Sharks if they progressed to the Premiership final, but the English side was knocked out by the Exeter Chiefs in the semi-finals.
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