There could be good news for Lood de Jager and the Springboks ahead of Lions tour
CAPE TOWN - “I’m constantly amazed and surprised by this fella.” That was how Sale Sharks coach Alex Sanderson described Springbok lock Lood de Jager, who is fighting hard to regain his fitness in time for the British and Irish Lions tour in July.
The 28-year-old Rugby World Cup winner sustained a broken leg in training earlier this month when he landed awkwardly during a lineout drill, and even Bok coach Jacques Nienaber expressed his doubts at the time about whether the former Bulls star would be ready for the Lions series.
De Jager has a long history with serious injuries, with the most disappointing probably coming in the World Cup final, when he had to leave the pitch with a shoulder problem in the first half, which kept him out of action for a number of months.
He suffered yet another shoulder injury soon after making his debut for Sale in September last year, but since his return, he has been his impregnable self, helping the Manchester side to fifth spot on the 16-team English Premiership log.
Now, in yet another injury rehabilitation period, De Jager has shown his determination to add to his 45 Test caps against the Lions.
“He has done something to his meniscus, a tear, and they have had to stitch that back up,” Sanderson told the RugbyPass website.
“If it wasn’t for that, it could be six to eight weeks, but with that, it’s more like 12 weeks. 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 that De Jager opted to stay at the club to do his rehab instead of heading back to South Africa, even though his wife and two children have returned to Mzansi.
“I’m constantly amazed and surprised by this fella. I said ‘Go home’. 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,” the Sale coach said.
“He has sent his missus home and his kids, 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 is 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, he has been playing his best rugby.”
De Jager’s fitness will be crucial for the Boks, as RG Snyman and Eben Etzebeth have also been battling with injuries in recent months. Both are expected to play against the Lions, though.