British & Irish Lions

Lood hell-bent to face Lions, even 'threatened' surgeon to do 'best job he has ever done'

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Lood de Jager in action for Sale Sharks. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Lood de Jager in action for Sale Sharks. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Springbok lock Lood de Jager is hell-bent on regaining full fitness in time for the British & Irish Lions series.

The burly lock, who plies his trade at English club Sale Sharks, recently went under the knife to repair damaged meniscus after suffering a training-ground injury.

De Jager was ruled out for 14 weeks at the beginning of April and is a doubt for the Lions series, but Sale Sharks coach Alex Sanderson wouldn't be surprised if the player regains his fitness in time.

So committed is De Jager that he told his surgeon to perform "the best operation he has ever done" before packing off his family to South Africa to begin his rehabilitation without distraction.

"He won't make the back end of this season but he will make pre-season and at the very best he could feature on the Lions tour all being fit," Sanderson said, as quoted by the Rugby Pass website.

Sanderson added that he was "constantly amazed" by De Jager's attitude.

"I said 'go home' to him. He hadn't seen his parents [in a while]. When you get a big injury like that on the back of another injury, I'm sure he would like to go and see his folks. 

"He has sent his missus home and his kid and he is still here to do rehab by himself. He is staying in one of the lad's houses because he can't get around. He is so keen to get back on it. Positive in terms of being able to come back and be back stronger. He is a brilliant advocate for anyone who gets injured and goes around kicking stones. 

"He's like, 'Right, I'm injured. Get me in'. He threatened the surgeon he better do a good job, the best job he has ever done. Threatened him - and then two days later he is on here on crutches, he is in the meetings, he is playing his music in the gym. 

"He brilliant and he is still contributing in meetings, is still doing the lineout analysis. The guy is massively helping us even though he is not playing... too right I will be really proud (if he plays against the Lions). He should do, he has been playing his best rugby."

Meanwhile, De Jager's second row partners at the Boks, RG Snyman and Eben Etzebeth, are also on the mend.

Etzebeth broke his finger during a training session with his French club Toulon, while Snyman is also on the road to recovery since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on debut for Irish club Munster last August.

Both are expected to be fit in time to face the Lions.

READ | Etzebeth describes broken finger incident: 'The bone actually came through the skin'

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