Johannesburg - All Black centre Ma’a Nonu shared his delights as Jean de Villiers makes progress following a serious knee injury.
There was a special moment after the Springbok captain’s 100th Test, which was played against the All Blacks in Wellington last year.
Nonu was rushed to the hospital with a broken arm during the game, but still took the time to remove his jersey and made sure it would reach the Springbok captain after the match.
A few months later, De Villiers suffered a serious knee injury during South Africa’s final Test of 2014 against Wales in Cardiff.
However, he’s worked his way through a miraculous recovery, regaining his fitness in just eight months. With De Villiers featuring in three matches (for the Springboks against the World XV and for Western Province against the Pumas and EP Kings), he’s expected to feature for South Africa against Argentina in Durban, and potentially the friendly in Buenos Aires.
“Jean is a great player and has always been a tough opponent,” Nonu told MyPlayers.co.za.
“We’ve had some close clashes against one another… in Super Rugby and Test rugby.
“Passing on my jersey after his 100th Test was my sign of respect to him. He’s been a great servant to South African and world rugby.”
When asked who was the toughest centre combination he’s faced during his career, Nonu was quick to name De Villiers and his partnership with Jaque Fourie.
“Those two formed a great centre combination. They really made a great impact during 2009, when the Springboks beat the All Blacks in Bloemfontein, Durban and Hamilton. That centre combo gave me and Conrad Smith a tough time.”
Nonu suffered a shoulder injury against the Springboks last weekend, but there are still hopes he will recover in time for the Rugby World Cup.
However, the 33-year-old believes there is enough talent in the centre department to ensure the All Blacks continue to succeed, with Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Malakai Fekitoa and Ryan Crotty all available.
“I played alongside Sonny Bill against Argentina, and I’ve played with Conrad for many, many years,” said Nonu.
“Every centre brings something great to the field, which is exciting.”
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