SAfrica’s De Villiers has more injury problems ahead of RWC
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Springboks captain Jean de Villiers is facing another injury battle ahead of the Rugby World Cup after fracturing his jaw in the 37-25 defeat to Argentina in the Rugby Championship.
De Villiers, who only just returned from an eight-month layoff following knee surgery, will be out again for 4-6 weeks, the South African Rugby Union said on Sunday. South Africa’s first game at the World Cup in England is against Japan on Sept. 19, in six weeks’ time.
The 34-year-old De Villiers, who has played 107 tests for South Africa, previously missed the entire 2003 World Cup and most of the 2007 and 2011 tournaments with injury.
He will now stay at home and is out of South Africa’s World Cup warmup game against Argentina next weekend in Buenos Aires, as are two other injured players, flanker Marcell Coetzee and fullback Willie le Roux.
Coetzee has a left knee ligament injury that will rule him out for six weeks. Le Roux has an ankle problem. A diagnosis on how long he’ll be out hasn’t been made yet, SARU said, ahead of scans of the injury.
South Africa lost a test against Argentina for the first time on Saturday, with the two-time world champion completely outplayed in Durban to finish last in the four-nation southern hemisphere competition with three losses from three games.
That put South Africa’s World Cup preparations in serious trouble and De Villiers, who was playing his first test since his knee injury last November, called the defeat a “low point” of his career.
Springboks team doctor Craig Roberts said on Sunday that forwards Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Willem Alberts and Warren Whiteley, and center Jan Serfontein had all recovered from their injuries to be fit for selection in Argentina. The 2007 World Cup winners Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen could also return.
However, No. 8 Duane Vermeulen, the Springboks’ player of the year last year, remains sidelined with a neck injury and is a doubt for the World Cup.