Cape Town - There is still a long road ahead for Jean de Villiers if he is to make it to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Springbok captain played 20 minutes in Saturday’s 46-10 win over the World XV at Newlands in what was his first taste of competitive rugby in almost eight months since the career-threatening knee injury he suffered against Wales in Cardiff.
De Villiers got through it seemingly unscathed and provided the assist for Willie le Roux’s third try, but he is under no illusions when it comes to his World Cup chances.
“For me to get to the World Cup is still a very long way,” said De Villiers after the match.
“I’ve still got a lot of boxes to tick. From a performance point of view I’ve still got to improve a hell of a lot. If you look at the performances that Damian (De Allende) and Jesse (Kriel) gave today it is not just a walk in.
“I need to deserve my place and I’ve still got a long way to go to be at an elite level and to form part of that squad.”
De Villiers added that he still does think about the injury and that he expects it to play on his mind for a while.
“I think there will always be a little bit of doubt for the first couple of months,” he said.
“The only way you get through that is by playing and taking a few knocks to the knee … getting used to those situations again on the rugby field that you can’t really simulate at training.
“But I got through it quite nicely and once you’re in the game you actually forget about the knee.”
On playing rugby again, the 34-year-old acknowledged that it was an emotional moment when he ran onto the pitch.
“It was quite emotional. It’s just nice to be back on the field playing and it’s always nice to do it with a bunch of mates,” said De Villiers.
“And obviously for me playing at Newlands again was quite special. It’s been a long couple of months.”
De Villiers will not be travelling with the Boks to Australia next week and will instead be joining John Dobson and Western Province ahead of Saturday’s friendly against the Pumas in Franschhoek.