South Africa's De Villiers poised for return against Argentina

Former Munster centre has been out since last November with a knee injury

Jean de Villiers has not played a competitive fixture since last November having had a complete reconstruction of his knee. Photo: Nick Bothma/PA

Jean de Villiers has not played a competitive fixture since last November having had a complete reconstruction of his knee. Photo: Nick Bothma/PA

 

Jean de Villiers is set to make his return for South Africa when they face Argentina in their final Rugby Championship test of the year in Durban on August 8th.

The centre, who has not played a competitive fixture since last November having had a complete reconstruction of his knee, is expected to be added to the Springbok squad in what is a major boost for the side ahead of the World Cup in England.

It is a sign that South Africa’s long injury list is shortening and will be welcome news for coach Heyneke Meyer after narrow back-to-back Rugby Championship defeats to Australia and New Zealand.

Also likely to be back from injury are experienced scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and flank Willem Alberts, who along with De Villiers will be assessed by the team’s medical staff in Durban and are expected to be added to Meyer’s options.

“It’s wonderful to see a number of players returning from injury and all of them will be considered if they are passed fit by our medical team,” Meyer said in a statement on Tuesday.

But the good news was tempered by news of injuries to prop Jannie du Plessis (knee), flanker Francois Louw (rotator cuff), lock Victor Matfield and wing JP Pietersen (both hamstring).

They will all miss the Durban test against Argentina and the trip to Buenos Aires a week later for a final warm-up before the World Cup.

Among the other walking wounded, centre Jan Serfontein (hip and knee), flanker Marcell Coetzee, lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and prop Steven Kitshoff (all knee) will also be assessed on Monday to determine if they will be available against the Pumas.

Utility back Frans Steyn is recovering well from a pectoral muscle injury and could be ready to play in Argentina.

“All of these players have worked hard during their rehabilitation and although we still have to put them through a final assessment on Monday after we’ve re-assembled in Durban, I’m hopeful that they should be fit to face Argentina in at least one of the two forthcoming Tests,” Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said.

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