South Africa Springboks Rugby News

De Villiers on the bench for Boks against World XV




Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer has named regular South Africa captain Jean
de Villiers to make his comeback to rugby through the bench against a World
XV at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

De Villiers has been injured for eight months after suffering a horrific knee
injury against Wales at the end of last year’s international season but returns
to the line up for this weekend.

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Victor Matfield will captain the Boks, with Warren Whiteley making his first
start in the Green and Gold, while two uncapped players, Jesse Kriel and Vincent
Koch, have been included in the match-23.

If De Villiers makes an appearance it will be his first rugby since suffering
a dislocated knee and ligament damage in the final match of 2014, against Wales
in Cardiff.

De Villiers has gone through more than seven months of rigorous rehabilitation
and is now completing a remarkable recovery.

“Jean is a massive asset to South African rugby and it’s wonderful
to know his return to play is progressing so well that we can give him some
game time from the bench on Saturday,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“The mere fact that he is back in shape and ready to play is testament
to his incredible work-ethic and his professional approach to the game. Jean
has really put in hours and hours of extra work to get here and he is a great
example for any player on how to put yourself in the best possible position
to recover.

“We will still manage how he is used against the World XV and afterwards
we’d like him to return to Western Province, where he will be available
for their Absa Currie Cup warm-ups.”

Meyer said the decision to hand the captaincy to Matfield for the time being
was not a difficult one. Ruan Pienaar has been given the vice-captaincy.

“The captaincy is a very important thing to me and it’s something
that I believe should not be treated lightly, especially at international level,”
said Meyer.

“Victor is the most-experienced player in the history of Springbok rugby
and has captained successfully at every level of the game.

“He led last year too when Jean was injured and was the vice-captain for
the rest of the season. Victor is also still in great shape – at our recent
fitness tests, he performed the best of all the forwards.

“Ruan is very experienced and in a key decision-making position. He will
run things at the back with Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen backing him up.”

Meyer said of the selection of Whiteley, Kriel and Koch: “All three of
them were magnificent in Super Rugby and they deserve this opportunity.
I’m excited to see how they step up to this level.

“I’ve always rated Vincent and followed his career for a long time.
He has really improved a lot recently, which is testament to the hard work he
and everyone who has worked with him, has put in. He has proved that players
can become Springboks from one of the so-called smaller unions.

“Warren is a specialist No 8 and will have big shoes to fill with Duane
Vermeulen out injured. Although he has played in only two Tests, he brings experience
and leadership to the pack, having led the Emirates Lions with great style this

“The reason we’ve decided to go with Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee
is because we have lost some ball-stealing ability with Duane not available,
but both our flanks can now fulfil that role.

“Jesse has played at outside centre before and starred for the Junior
Springboks in that position in four of their five matches in 2014. He’s
also been training with us for a long time and I’m sure he will slot in
easily with Damian de Allende in an exciting but a little inexperienced midfield

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