De Jager able and ready for the Red Dragons

2014-06-13 00:00

THE Springboks have a lot of depth in locks, with Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Lood de Jager, said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

But with Etzebeth and Du Toit both on the injury list, De Jager will get his cap as the rookie lock against Wales in Durban tomorrow.

Meyer said the lanky De Jager (21) has grown as a player at the Cheetahs and had all the makings to also go on to record the 50 Tests that Bok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp will count on Saturday.

De Jager replaces Flip van der Merwe on the bench, who will be attending his brother’s wedding.

De Jager was one of the best players in the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby campaign, during which series he also broke a finger. Meyer said he had been keeping an eye on De Jager even when he was on the injury list.

“Then SA rugby gave me the opportunity to invite him to an exercise camp and I was very surprised by him.”

Meyer said De Jager is a typical South African lock.

“He is rock hard, a good ball carriers, and has shaken off a few kilograms and worked hard on his conditioning.

“He is very good in the lineout and can play in both lock positions.”

However, Meyer added that De Jager is not all brawn. He has are brains too.

“Believe it or not, he had three distinctions in matric.”

He said when De Jager arrived as a promising U21 player from the Leopards to the Cheetahs in 2012, predictions were that he could develop into the next Bakkies Botha and this has now happened.

Meyer said De Jager is also hungry to get to the top.

“He is the complete package.”

Meyer said he especially appreciated De Jager’s willingness to learn, adding there are no better mentors on lock than Botha and Victor Matfield.

Meyer said it was quite special to see how much it meant for young players like De Jager to be chosen for the team.

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