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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers & Jan Serfontein

Jean de Villiers & Jan Serfontein

The Springboks are likely to head to the World Cup next year without a specialist outside centre, but is that such a problem?

Jaque Fourie’s recent retirement from international rugby and captain Jean de Villiers’ horrific knee injury means that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s midfield options will have to be significantly revised next year.

The two formed the most capped centre pairing in Springbok history, and many had their money on seeing them together for one last hurrah in England next year.

A look at the options available shows that outside centres are in seemingly short supply, which means that the Boks may play with two inside centres as they effectively did throughout 2014.

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Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

 

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will require surgery on his injured left knee and will be in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.

De Villiers left the field in the 58th minute of the Springboks’ final Test of the season, last Saturday against Wales in Cardiff, after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap.

Scans shortly after the match revealed significant ligament damage to the knee. De Villiers returned to South Africa on Monday and was assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon in Cape Town, who advised that the Springbok captain requires surgical reconstruction of the knee.

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SpringboksThe International season is done for the Southern Hemisphere and for Springbok rugby for 2014 and the only rugby of real importance left for us southern rugby junkies, are the 2 remaining HSBC Sevens World Series Tournaments in 2014 – the Dubai Sevens this coming weekend and the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Tournament the week thereafter.

In the meantime the Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby sides are extremely busy with their preparation work, conditioning and getting ready for Super Rugby 2015.

The question is, what has the Springboks learnt from the year of 2014 and from the End Of Year Tour?

Will we see a total change of tack and a move away from the high-ball kick and chase bombs from the Springboks? Very few International Tests remain before the start of the Rugby World Cup 2015 (18 September 2015) in England, however a full season of Super Rugby and the abbreviated Rugby Championship still loom in 2015 before the World Cup starts.

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South Africa suffered a big blow when Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was injured during their 12-6 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

De Villiers was forced to leave the field in the 58th minute after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap. The dislocation was reduced on the field and he was sent for scans shortly after the match.

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

“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.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said losing De Villiers was a massive setback as the team were just beginning to build momentum in a tough encounter against Wales. The home team’s points came via four Leigh Halfpenny penalty goals, while Pat Lambie responded with two penalty goals for the visitors.

“It was a massively disappointing way to end the tour and our season, as we always strive to make our country proud,” said Meyer.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

South Africa need no extra motivation to raise themselves for Saturday’s season-ending Test match against Wales after being pushed hard by the Welsh in their last match earlier this year.

The South Africans led 17-0 and 30-17 early in the clash in Nelspruit in June before the Welsh staged a dramatic comeback, only to fall short by a solitary point, as the Springboks hung on for a 31-30 victory.

That win stretched the Springboks’ formidable record over Wales to just one loss (1999) and one draw (1970) in 29 matches between the two countries.

“It’s pretty easy to motivate yourself. It’s the last one, you can put all your effort into it, not that you don’t in any other week of the year.

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Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby shortly after the Test.

“Bakkies will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks of all time,” said Meyer of the 85-times capped lock forward. “He is a giant on the field and off it and never gave an inch, which personifies what Springbok rugby is all about.

“I’ve coached him for a very long time and while I’m immensely very proud of the player he’s become, I’m even more proud of the man Bakkies has become. I’ll forever be very proud of having been his coach.”

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Heyneke Meyer, SARU President Origen Hoskins, Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers with Salie Fredericks

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, SARU President Origen Hoskins, Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers hand over a Springbok jersey to Salie Fredericks on Friday.

Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), accompanied by a Springbok delegation on Friday visited the recuperating former “Coloured Springboks” captain Salie Fredericks at his house in Gordon’s Bay.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, team manager Ian Schwartz, captain Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Victor Matfield accompanied Mr Hoskins, as they wished Mr Fredericks well with his recovery from surgery.

Fredericks, who was labelled as the “Black Frik du Preez” by some newspapers in his playing days, played more than 200 provincial matches for Western Province in competitions of the former South African Coloured Rugby Football Board, and later the non-racial and anti-apartheid South African Rugby Union.

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Richie McCaw & Jean de Villiers

Respect on and off the field. Richie McCaw making a special presentation to Jean de Villiers.

It came as an innocuous question from an All Black supporter on Twitter, but it summed up the feeling after Saturday’s epic Springboks-All Blacks test in Wellington.

“After that, don’t you wish Ellis Park could be next week?” he asked. The answer is a big resounding yes.

It wasn’t because we lost and wanted revenge. It wasn’t because the Boks will be kicking themselves for coming so close against the World Champions.

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Ma'a Nonu

TOUGH BREAK: All Blacks inside centre Ma’a Nonu won’t be sighted on a rugby field again until next year after breaking his arm against the Springboks on Saturday night.

Ma’a Nonu didn’t win the respect and admiration of his South African opposite Jean de Villiers with a big tackle or a crunching run.

The All Blacks second five-eighth saved his classiest moment for the quiet of the changing room where doctors surveyed his broken forearm at halftime during Saturday’s Rugby Championship match at Westpac Stadium.

Nonu’s test, and season, were over, a steel plate inserted in his arm yesterday morning, but as the ambulance doors swung open to take the 32-year-old across town to Wellington Hospital, Nonu thought not of his misfortune and considerable pain.

Instead, he pulled off his No 12 jersey and instructed his handlers to take it to the opposition changing room where it could be collected by de Villiers after he completed his 100th test for the Springboks.

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Jean de Villiers

South African captain Jean de Villiers enjoys Wellington’s sunshine during training at the Hutt Recreation Ground this week ahead of his 100th test, against the All Blacks, at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

It’s when the discussion switches away from rugby that Jean de Villiers is most animated.

Make no mistake, South Africa’s captain is passionate about his code and about winning.

Growing up in Paarl he watched his father Andre play for Western Province and dreamed of following in his sprig-marks.

De Villiers has done that and more in a career that’s seen him win the World Cup, in 2007, beat the All Blacks eight times, score 25 test tries and clock up 99 caps for his country in the process.

And yet, it is a greater calling that seems to drive the 33-year-old midfielder on.

“Giving hope to a lot of people and kids in South Africa,” de Villiers said this week when asked what he hoped his legacy as a Springbok would be.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers sees the Springboks advancing years as an advantage ahead of his 100th test.

The evergreen midfielder will become just the fifth player to bring up 100 test caps for South Africa during Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks in Wellington.

Two of those players, John Smit and Percy Montgomery, have retired, but Bryan Habana and Victor Matfield will run out alongside de Villiers when he achieves his milestone at Westpac Stadium.

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Jean De Villiers

Jean De Villiers

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers cannot quite believe that he is about to play his 100th Test match, given he felt he might not even get a second after he destroyed ligaments in his knee, seven minutes into his debut.

The centre spent nine months recuperating after that Test against France in Marseille in November 2002, returned to play a game as the Springboks warmed up for the 2003 World Cup in Australia, then suffered a shoulder injury.

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South AfricaSouth Africa have opted to look internally, rather than focus on and get distracted by external sideshows.

Speaking ahead of the Springboks Rugby Championship Round Four encounter with arch rivals New Zealand, in Wellington on Saturday, assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher said this week is all about themselves – as they look to bounce back from last week’s heartbreaking loss to Australia.

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Jean de Villiers

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will play in his 100th test against the All Blacks this coming Saturday.

It is fast becoming the “100 hoodoo” … and it is a trend South Africa must fight grimly to snap when they take on the might of New Zealand in the Castle Rugby Championship on Saturday (Wellington, 09:35 SA time).

Three of four Springboks to have earned the milestone for caps – Percy Montgomery, John Smit and now Bryan Habana – have had the big day soured to a significant extent by ending it in Test defeat.

In the cases of the first-named two, the reverses came at the hands of the very All Blacks, so there’s a potential hat-trick of heartbreak in the offing at the “Cake Tin”, because Bok captain Jean de Villiers hits the landmark then as fifth recipient for the country.

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Bryan Habana

Centurion Bryan Habana

The Springboks will seek “clarity” around Bryan Habana’s controversial sin-binning but have refused to blame match officials for their one-point loss to the Wallabies in Perth.

Referee George Clancy’s call to pull a yellow card from his pocket in response to Habana’s high shot on Australian winger Rob Horne in the 65th minute lit up social media with a torrent of criticism for Clancy and the International Rugby Board’s management of its match officials.

And while a clearly agitated Heyneke Meyer walked into the post-match media conference after the match, the South African coach demurred from jumping on board, calling instead for “consistency” across the board.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers says the Wallabies might be feeling some “psychological pressure” going into Saturday’s clash after dropping their last three Tests by 20 points or more to the Springboks.

After years of Mandela Challenge Plate dominance, the Wallabies have gone missing in the two sides’ last three hit-outs, going down 28-8, 38-12 and 31-8.

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Agustin Creevy

Agustin Creevy

Argentina captain Agustin Creevy bemoaned the fact that his team did not have the nous and fortitude to close out the game when they had a big lead.

Flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked a penalty three minutes from time to earn South Africa a very fortuitous 33-31 win over the Pumas at the 20,000-seater Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena in Salta at the weekend.

Trailing by 12 points with the final quarter approaching, a Springboks side – given a torrid time in the forward exchanges for much of the match – clawed back to snatch victory.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers has said that he is hoping that his team can dominate in the forwards like they are used to ahead of Saturday’s game against Argentina in Salta.

The Springboks have been famed for the physicality since the inception of the game in the Republic with the forwards often being the heroes on game day.

The Springbok captain is calling for that famed physicality to take centre stage again on the weekend so that the Boks can play their natural game.

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South AfricaContrary to the expected dry conditions on the Highveld, the Springboks had to adapt to hail and torrential rain in their narrow 13-6 Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday.

“We really wanted to play exciting rugby. We picked an exciting backline as we thought we would have an open, running game on the Highveld,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said after the nail-biting match.

“I am very proud of the team. That game could have gone either way. A lot of the Argentineans play in Europe, where they are used to the conditions, and they forced us into a kicking battle.”

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Juan Smith

Juan Smith

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has praised the move to bring veteran flank Juan Smith back into the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship, calling it an ‘unbelievable’ story.

It was reported that Smith – who was told by more than one doctor that his rugby career was over – was included as cover for the injured Victor Matfield in the Bok squad this week ahead of next weekend’s opener against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.

After getting a second chance at Toulon, Smith turned the opportunity into gold with the way he used his new lease on life to craft his way into the Toulon squad and was an integral part in their success in Europe this year.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

The prognosis on Springbok captain Jean de Villiers’ fitness ahead of next weekend’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship opener against Argentina took a positive lift with the news that the player himself feels he will be fit and ready for the opening game.

Much has been made of the fitness of De Villiers and whether or not he should have been released to play in the Absa Currie Cup this weekend, especially after three months on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Given that Victor Matfield has been ruled out of action for next week as well with injury, the Boks suddenly needed to contemplate a backup plan for De Villiers if he is injured and a new captain has to be found.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

South AfricaSpringbok captain Jean de Villiers has recovered from the knee injury which kept him out of the June Tests and is back in the national squad for the forthcoming Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

De Villiers is one of six players returning from injury after missing the entire or a part of the Castle Lager Incoming Series.

The others are Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Frans Malherbe (prop), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Patrick Lambie (flyhalf / fullback) and Damian de Allende (centre).

De Allende, who was forced to withdraw from the squad in June because of a knee ligament injury, and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach are the only two uncapped players in the 30-man Springbok squad.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers’s good nature in terms of positional flexibility may be exploited once again in a few weeks’ time.

The first-choice Springbok captain, who missed the entire June window period due to a knee injury, is an estimated four weeks away from a return to full fitness, which gives him a reasonable chance of being ready – albeit rather undercooked in match sharpness – for the Castle Rugby Championship opener against  Argentina at Loftus on 16 August.

His status was confirmed as the Stormers on Monday issued an update on various sidelined players, some of whom will be available for consideration for Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Newlands.

Both De Villiers and franchise colleague Damian de Allende, another midfielder who had cracked the Bok squad nod a few weeks ago only to be quickly struck down by wretchedly inconvenient injury himself, remain a few weeks out from renewed activity.

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Heyneke Meyer emotional and animated in the game between Wallabies vs Springboks, The Rugby Championship, Brisbane, 7 September 013

Heyneke Meyer emotional and animated in the game between Wallabies vs Springboks, The Rugby Championship, Brisbane, 7 September 2013

The June Internationals are close at hand and Heyneke Meyer has already showed his hand to a certain extent by selecting a Springbok Training Group, which currently excludes players plying their trade in the UK and Europe.

The recent injury to Springbok captain, Jean de Villiers, now determines that a  “Stand-in” Springbok captain will have to be selected and coupled to this the Springbok midfield positions are bound to be re-constituted.

Injuries to key players, specially flyhalf, as well as the 3-match suspension of Adriaan Strauss at hooker will see some juggling around of the match-day 23 and some very clear thinking will be required by Heyneke Meyer to address these issues.

We take a look at the Springbok Captaincy candidates as well as midfield combination and look at hooker options to function as back-up to Bismarck du Plessis.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will miss the Castle Lager Incoming Series next month after he was ruled out for approximately eight weeks with a knee injury.

After experiencing some discomfort in his left knee on Saturday morning, De Villiers was pulled out of the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Toyota Cheetahs.

De Villiers underwent a scope in Cape Town on Sunday morning and the prognosis is that he will be out of action for almost two months. He will hopefully be back by the start of Castle Lager Rugby Championship in August.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

DHL StormersVice-captain Schalk Burger and captain Jean de Villiers are both back in the DHL Stormers team for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs at DHL Newlands, kick-off 17:05 SA Time.

Tickets for this weekend can be bought online at TicketPros, or from selected Spar stores or PostNet outlets/stores. Ticket prices start at R50 for standing and R80 for seating.

Burger missed last weekend’s 24-8 win over the Force, whilst De Villiers returns after a two-week lay-off.

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Jean de VilliersThe DHL Stormers, fresh off their 24-8 win over the Force at the weekend, were further boosted on Monday with some good news in the injury department.

The Men from the Cape will host the Cheetahs in Cape Town this coming Saturday and the likes of Oli Kebble, Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers and Sailosi Tagicakibau will be considered for selection once again.

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Allister CoetzeeJean de VilliersSchalk BurgerDHL StormersOn the weekend, the battling Stormers had reason to smile again after they returned to winning ways against the Lions.

Allister Coetzee, head coach declared he was happy with the win.

Jean de Villiers revealed he defied instructions from the coach to play defensive when they had a 15-point lead.

Schalk Burger and Oli Kebble will be back this weekend, returning from injury, while Pat Cilliers and Demetri Catrakilis is sidelined with injuries.

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Jean de VilliersStormersSquad captain Jean de Villiers, prop Pat Cilliers and lock / flank Jurie van Vuuren are all back on deck this week, and available for selection against the Lions.

Hookers Scarra Ntubeni and Tiaan Liebenberg and wing Kobus van Wyk are not available for selection as yet, whilst flank Schalk Burger and winger Cheslin Kolbe will be given until later in the week to see if they are available.

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DHL StormersHead coach Allister Coetzee has announced a team showing seven changes for the DHL Stormers’ final Vodacom Super Rugby tour match on Saturday – against the Reds in Brisbane (kick-off 10:40 SA Time).

Springbok centre Juan de Jongh has been restored to the starting line-up, following his return from injury via the bench last weekend, whilst WP Under-21 star Jurie van Vuuren will make his first Super Rugby start after being named to partner Michael Rhodes at lock.

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