Jean delighted after emerging unscathed

2011-09-30 14:32

To have walked off the field without a medic at his side today was a wonderful feeling, Springbok centre Jean de Villiers said after South Africa’s 13-5 World Cup victory over Samoa.

“I managed to finish my first World Cup game ever, so I must be happy,” De Villiers said.

“I have started to think that I’m cursed when it comes to World Cups, so to have come on and helped the team get the win that booked our place in the quarterfinals is great.”

De Villiers was ruled out shortly before the start of the 2003 World Cup, and in 2007 he featured briefly in South Africa’s opening match before he tore his bicep, playing no further part in the tournament.

He limped off again with a rib injury in South Africa’s opening match of the current showpiece against Wales in Wellington.

De Villiers came on at wing in the place of Francois Hougaard in the 51st minute against a physically brutal Samoan side.

Hougaard had earlier replaced Bryan Habana who limped off the field with an apparent knee injury.

De Villiers, renowned for the flair he brings to backline play, could not have asked for a more intense challenge.

His opponents were lightning fast and held nothing back when going into contact.

“It was good to get some game time,” De Villiers said.

“It probably was a big test coming into a game like this with busted ribs and playing the Samoans, who definitely didn’t hold back on the physical side of it.”

With a handful of potentially injured wingers – JP Pietersen had to complete the match in great discomfort – De Villiers admitted he would like to get some more game time, although specialist wings were likely to be favoured.

“I think we have great back-up still in Gio Aplon and Odwa Ndungane, guys that can cover there,” De Villiers said.

“Hopefully those other guys will come through this game without too serious injuries and be ready for next week’s game.”

Frans Steyn, meanwhile, proved he was bound to remain the first choice centre for the remainder of the tournament as he continued to provide something extra with his long-range kicking abilities.

For De Villiers, after sitting out two previous World Cup tournaments, just being in New Zealand was reward enough.

“We will just continue to do whatever is needed of us,” he said.

“If that means playing off the bench, starting or not, even being in the 22, you just have to do your utmost to ensure the team is successful.

“Wherever I’m needed I will give my best.”

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