Cape Town - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is set to make his comeback for the national side in their one-off match against the World XV on July 11 in Cape Town.
According to the supersport.com website, De Villiers, who is close to completing his rehabilitation programme from a horrific knee injury sustained in Wales last year, has confirmed he will be looking for a “few minutes” on the field in the Cape Town game before making his full return for Western Province in two Absa Currie Cup warm-up matches in the two weeks following that.
De Villiers will get clarity from team doctor Craig Roberts next week when the Springbok team gets together in Johannesburg ahead of the World XV game but is hoping to get onto the field in Cape Town to make a miraculous return.
“I’m definitely going to be playing in July. Where exactly I don’t know yet. Obviously the squad gets together next week and there I might get a bit more clarity what the plan is,” De Villiers said.
“From a Test point of view you obviously don’t just walk in to a Test match. The World XV game, not being a Test match, and there being less pressure in that game, may just be a good possibility to be introduced in there from the bench or something. Then after that Western Province is playing two warm-up games and I’m looking to play in those warm-up games.”
The two warm-up games in question are for when Western Province face the Pumas and EP Kings on July 18 and 25, respectively, with the second game hopefully being targeted as a full 80 minutes for the Bok captain.
“I want to get some more game time and possibly if I can get as close to a full game in that game against the Kings, then I’ll be happy,” De Villiers explained.
“Post that we will have to wait and see where it takes me. From a national point of view there are the Argentinean games, and there is also the start of Currie Cup in August. For now we’re just planning towards July and getting myself back onto the field and getting so much game time as possible. It’s nice to be talking weeks now and not months. Soon it will be days.”
De Villiers said a run in the Currie Cup was a “very distinct possibility” for him to get back to form after proving his match fitness.
“Certainly those warm-up games will be crucial for me to get into the swing of things, but playing is one thing, getting form back is another altogether and being good enough to play for the Springboks, that’s where you need to get to. Only time will tell where it will take me.”
De Villiers denied he was “relieved” that he was almost back on the field, given where he was nine months ago. But he did say he was looking forward to enjoying his “benefit series” – a benefit year bestowed upon him by Western Province rugby.
De Villiers will host a series of dinners and golf days, with several charities – including SuperSport’s Let’s Play initiative and Laureus as beneficiaries – to cap his comeback year.
“Not yet,” he quipped, “I still haven’t played my first game back – there is still a lot to go through, but it has been an unbelievable journey. In a way the idea was always to have this benefit series and thank people who have supported me through all this time, to say thanks to those who have supported me through my injuries and to my teammates over the years and have a bit of fun.
De Villiers will join John Smit, Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger for a benefit dinner at the Sandton Convention Centre on July 27 followed by two golf days – the first on August 18 at the Killarney Golf Club and followed by one at Boschenmeer in Paarl on September 4.