Bok lock's 'shoulders are all metal now'
NEWS: World Cup winner Lood de Jager and his ‘metal shoulders’ will return to action for the first time since surgery in September when Sale travel to Harlequins on Saturday in the Premiership.
De Jager has now had three surgeries on his shoulders and the latest injury came during a match at Leicester last season. It was a recurrence of the injury he sustained in the World Cup final victory over England a year earlier.
Now fit-again, it means Alex Sanderson, the new Sale director of rugby, will be able to name Lood amongst the replacements as his third-placed side take on Harlequins who are just one place below in the Premiership table.
Sanderson has been impressed by the lock’s ball-handling ability in training and believes his all-round game, including putting in big hits, is the reason he has suffered so many shoulder problems.
However, Sanderson has no intention of asking De Jager to avoid contact. He said: “The big man is up for selection along with Cobus Wiese which means potentially two big South Africans [against Harlequins]. He has followed his return to play programme and I have been told his shoulders are all metal now!
“The reason his shoulders have been injured is that he is so co-ordinated and able to hit so well and also pass. You think it is going to be a case of set-piece work but he can do all of that. His work around the park is really good and I’m looking forward to selecting him.
“If you don’t go in fully committed that is when you get seriously injured and that is my own point of view. Given that I had to retire through injury it may not be the best. I can’t ask him to do anything that is against his very nature. I just want him to go out there and play his game.”
While de Jager is back in the Sale mix, fellow South African’s Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Akker van der Merwe are still coming back from leg injuries.
“Rohan has a soft tissue injury in his calf and is still a couple of weeks away,” added Sanderson.
By Chris Jones, @RugbyPass