Jean De Villiers injury may keep him out of next year’s Rugby World Cup

Jean de Villiers has “significant” knee ligament damage and will likely find out later this week if he has a realistic chance of recovering in time to captain South Africa at next year’s World Cup.
South Africa's captain Jean de Villiers suffered a knee injury against Wales that team doctor Craig Roberts described as 'significant'. Steve Haag / Getty Images
South Africa's captain Jean de Villiers suffered a knee injury against Wales that team doctor Craig Roberts described as 'significant'. Steve Haag / Getty Images

Agencies

Jean de Villiers has “significant” knee ligament damage and will likely find out later this week if he has a realistic chance of recovering in time to captain South Africa at next year’s World Cup.

The centre dislocated his knee cap in the Springboks’ 12-6 loss to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Scans have revealed the damage is extensive, with no time frame put on his recovery.

“The scans revealed significant ligament damage to the inside of his knee and the supporting muscles,” team doctor Craig Roberts said on Sunday.

“Jean will return to South Africa and see an orthopaedic specialist in Cape Town early in the week. He has had previous surgery on this knee and the further management of the injury is dependent upon the specialist’s recommendations.”

The loss of De Villiers, 33, both as a captain and key decision-maker in the backline, would be a significant blow to South Africa’s chances at the September 18 to October 31 tournament in England.

He injured his knee five minutes into his Springboks debut against France in 2002 and did not play for the national side again for almost two years.

The Wales defeat marked a disappointing end to what has been a mixed year for coach Heyneke Meyer, who insisted he was pleased to have at least grown the depth of the squad in 2014.

South Africa’s win percentage of 71 (10 out of 14 Tests) stacks up favourably to their performances in the years before the last three World Cup tournaments, when they hovered around the 50 per cent mark.

“Statistics showed us the year before a World Cup is always tough and our aim was to work hard and ensure we still perform well,” Meyer said.

“We learnt valuable lessons from the defeats in Cardiff and Dublin [against Ireland], while we came very close in Perth [against Australia] and Auckland [against New Zealand].

“Although the season wasn’t perfect, I think we’ve still done well.

“With all the injuries to key players and our overseas-based players not available at stages during the season, we were also forced to build our depth, which can be seen as a positive.

“We have nine months of very hard work ahead before we head out to England for the World Cup.”

WALES WIN OVER SPRINGBOKS ‘NO SURPRISE’

Sam Warburton said he was not surprised that Wales finally ended their southern hemisphere hoodoo. Captain Warburton led from the front to inspire only a second victory in 108 years over South Africa, and Wales’s first against either the Springboks, New Zealand and Australia since November 2008. “I always thought it was a matter of when, not if, and I never doubted the ability of our team,” he said. “You only have to be in our changing room before the game and see how motivated everyone is to play these sides.”

AUSTRALIA SCRUM on a MISSION

Michael Cheika has conceded Australia have 10 months to improve the reputation of their scrum or face a tough time at next year’s Rugby World Cup.

England demolished Australia’s scrum to triumph 26-17 at Twickenham on Saturday and the side’s meet at the World Cup next October. Cheika, the Australia coach, said: “We have to improve our scrum reputation if we are going to get the rub of the green on those interpretation calls,” he said. “We need to change some things, technique and strategy.”

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Published: November 30, 2014 04:00 AM

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