More bad news for injured Bok lock
REACTION: Veteran Springbok lock Lodewyk de Jager is clinging to the hope of featuring for the World Cup champions against the British and Irish Lions later this year.
That is despite the news that not only did he fracture his tibia (not his femur as first reported), but the 28-year-old also sustained damage to the meniscus in his knee.
The bad news was delivered to the media by Sale Sharks’ Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson this week.
Speaking ahead of his team’s European Cup quarterfinal showdown with French powerhouse La Rochelle at Stade Marcel-Deflandre on Saturday, Sanderson said the knee injury is the key to the second row forward’s prospects of playing for South Africa against the Lions in July and August.
“He is actually in London now finding out,” Sanderson said during his Tuesday media update.
“Lood wants to be back in six weeks.
“If it is just down to this clean break [of his tibia], it could be six to eight weeks.
“I’m crossing my fingers and saying my prayers for that.
“However, there is something wrong with his knee and his meniscus – a meniscus tear or whatever.
“That will determine the length of the rehabilitation period for him, so we will see later.”
Having battled back from shoulder operations in recent years, a run that began with a World Cup Final injury against England in November 2019, De Jager was expected to be in the Sale second row for last Sunday’s Round of 16 Champions Cup tie away to Scarlets.
However, he was omitted from the Sharks XV and it emerged that the lock had suffered a fracture when landing after fetching a ball in the air during training.
“We were on the field,” Sanderson told the media briefing, adding: “We heard the crack and Lood was like: ‘oh no‘.
“It was brutal.
“We had to complete the session, because we had a game [on Sunday] and that meant moving to another pitch and cracking on while he was getting stretchered 30 metres away.”
The 45-times capped De Jager is a hugely popular figure in the Sharks set-up.
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“Lood has a Lions tour and I’m sure that’s in the back, or more likely, the forefront of his mind,” Sanderson said.
“But he never mentioned it to me. It was about getting back for us. That’s the measure of the man.”
With fellow lock Rudolph Snyman also in a race against time, after injuring his knee in his first game for Irish province Munster, the Springbok management will be looking at two other World Cup winners – also based abroad – as the starting lock pair.
Eben Etzebeth has been getting regular game time for French giants Toulon and Franco Mostert is also getting plenty of game time for his Suzuka-based Japanese club the Heat.
Jason Jenkins, who recently signed with Munster from Verblitz in Japan, could also add to his one solitary cap if De Jager and Snyman are not fit in time.
South African-based players who will come into the selection frame include Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), Ruan Nortje (Bulls) and even Marvin Orie (Stormers).
World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit will likely get some game time in the Rainbow Cup and is a back-up option in the second row – even though he was the world’s best blindside flank before his injury early in 2020.