Cape Town - An orthopaedic surgeon fears that the Test career of Springbok captain Jean de Villiers may be over.
De Villiers left the field in the 58th minute of the Springboks’ final Test of the season, last Saturday against Wales in Cardiff, after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap.
On Monday it was announced that the Bok skipper would require surgical reconstruction of the knee after scans revealed significant ligament damage.
“We are currently consulting with the best specialists in South Africa to determine the best way to approach the surgery as there are potentially a few options available,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.
Mike Verrier, an orthopaedic surgeon from Knysna, told Netwerk24 that the injury is of a very serious nature.
"In my humble opinion, Jean would never be able to return to his normal level of rugby," said Verrier. "He may be able to play again, but his knee will never be normal again. For that reason, I would be very surprised if he ever represents his country again. I haven't seen the scans on Jean but I strongly suspect that he tore the most important ligaments in his knee."
An orthopaedic surgeon from Pretoria, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said De Villiers's injury is the type which ends sports careers.
"We suspect he tore three of his knee ligaments. His knee will never be the same again and it will never be 100% again."
Springbok media manager, De Jongh Borchardt, said they will know more of the extent of the injury in coming weeks.
"The surgeon doesn't want to make early presumptions. They first want to open up and go in and see what is damaged and how severe it is."
De Villiers is now in a race against time to be fit for next year's Rugby World Cup in England and Wales. Should he fail to recover in time before the event starts on September 18, the Springboks would need to find a new captain.
Lock Victor Matfield and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez appear to be the early favourites to stand in as skipper.