Bok capt on the mend

2015-04-24 00:00

AFTER one of the most horrifying ­injuries seen on a rugby field, South ­Africans are still questioning whether Jean de Villiers will be fit for the Rugby World Cup, let alone play rugby again. But according to the incumbent Springbok captain, he could well be.

De Villiers’s left knee was basically destroyed in the Springboks’ final tour match against Wales in November last year, but just five months later, the Springbok captain is already able to run.

“The extent of the injury was pretty bad, but they managed to fix it. The fact of the matter is that I’m running, jumping, and I’m actually way ahead of schedule. It’s going really well, everything is on target and hopefully I can play a part at the World Cup later this year,” De Villiers said at a Dads and Lads function hosted at Kearsney on Wednesday night.

While many have seen the replay of the incident that saw De Villiers’s leg mangled at a ruck, the Bok captain stood up to explain just how bad it really was.

“You’ve got two ligaments on the inside of your knee — your anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament, they were both off. Then you’ve got your medial ligament on the inside — that was also off.

“My patella was sitting here [pointing to the side of his knee], dislocated. Then this VMO [stabilising muscle of the knee] that attaches here, that was off. The hamstring was also torn. But the rest was great and the right knee is perfect,” De Villiers joked.

The Bok captain also revealed that he nearly missed the Test match — which would have seen him avoid the injury altogether.

De Villiers was set to return home the week of the Test to be with his then ­very-pregnant wife, who was having complications with her pregnancy the week before the Wales Test.

“I sat down with Heyneke Meyer and the coaching staff and said, ‘I’m probably going to have to fly home this week and I might miss the Test match’ and they supported me 100%. On the Monday my wife saw the doctor again and being a massive rugby fan, he decided everything is fine, I can stay in Wales,” The Bok captained joked again.

With his soon-to-be-born son declared healthy, De Villiers went on to play that Saturday.

Five days later, he lay injured on the Millenium Stadium turf. Meanwhile his wife had not seen the incident due to load shedding. As soon as he was being treated in the medical room, De Villiers was given the phone and spoke to his emotional wife — who heard about the injury via concerned friends.

“Suddenly she got these messages like, ‘We’re praying for you; that looked so bad; I hope he’s fine’. There’s my pregnant wife, panicking, wanting to know what’s going on. I was in a lot of pain, but I had to try and calm her down because I was worried about the baby and wanted her to relax. I had to tell her, ‘It’s not so bad, I’ll be fine, maybe just a couple of weeks out’.”

De Villiers’s wife ended up looking after him, his two little girls and his new-born son in what he described as “a hectic couple of months”. However, his hard work has seen him make huge strides towards returning to the field — while enjoying the extra family time.

As for the possibility of not making the World Cup squad, De Villiers was asked whether Frans Steyn could play a role at the global showpiece.

“I think it’s open at the moment, everyone has a shot and obviously we know what a fantastic talent Frans is. I think the best team will get selected, but Frans is just such a talent and when he is playing at his best he really is unstoppable. Let’s just hope by the time the team get selected we’ve got the best guys there and no one gets left behind in South Africa where we can say ‘if he was there we would have won it’. Frans has a lot to add so let’s hope for the best in that regard.”

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