Fullback Willie le Roux played all three of the Springboks’ World Cup playoff matches with a serious shoulder injury.
Le Roux suffered the injury in the early stages of South Africa’s quarter-final against Japan when he accidentally collided with teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The fullback is said to have felt numb in the first half of the match, but pushed through the remainder of the contest as well as the semi-final against Wales, where he particularly battled with discomfort.
A close friend of Le Roux confirmed to Sunday newspaper Rapport that the player was scared the injury flared up at a crucial moment in the final and would impact his performance negatively.
‘He told Rassie he was afraid the injury could negatively affect his game at a critical stage in the final and that he didn’t want to let his teammates down,’ the friend told Rapport.
‘He told Rassie he wouldn’t blame him if he omitted him from the team for the final, but Rassie wasn’t having it. The coach even presented the Bok team a video that highlighted Willie’s contributions on the field, including off-the-ball moments that casual observers of the game would miss.’
Le Roux would go on to produce a highly-influential performance in the final as the Boks comfortably overcame England.
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