However while my admiration for Jean de Villiers is pretty obvious, so too is the truth about his tournament and career ending injury. “It’s never nice getting injured and knowing that I’ve played my last game for South Africa”.
De Villiers showed glimpses of a return to form after an injury-plagued season. “But probably the most messages that I ever got in my life playing for the Boks”.
This was after he had failed to make the trip to Australia and New Zealand in 2003 after injuring his shoulder against the Falcons in a warm-up match.
He had always planned to hang up his boots after this year’s Rugby World Cup but was forced to call it quits sooner after fracturing his jaw against Samoa on Saturday.
In 2011, he popped a rib in the opener, and was a bystander as the team fell in the quarterfinals.
De Villiers captained South Africa on 37 occasions and is the fourth-most capped player in South Africa rugby history.
“We’ve still got a massive game this weekend (against Scotland) and certainly I don’t want the guys to feel sorry for me.
The team must not see this as a setback but as an indicator to fight harder to win the World Cup“, the sport minister said.
South Africa next play Scotland and the United States – sides who meet in Leeds on Sunday – and could yet top the pool and claim a more favourable quarter-final draw with two wins.
Springboks captain Jean De Villiers was amongst them as he was sent to a nearby hospital for an X-ray.
Injury has blighted the centre’s previous tournaments, with only handful of his 109 caps over the past 13 years coming at the World Cup.
He said: “The way in which he never gave up fighting to overcome his last serious knee injury reminded me again how much of a warrior he is and how highly he regarded the Springbok jersey”. He still managed to return to the fray five minutes later.
His calm, measured influence during the All Black team-sheet incident at Ellis Park in October 2013 during that outstanding test match was a testament to doing the right thing for everyone at the ground that night, not just himself and his team.
“This is just our first step forward at this World Cup and something we can build from here”, Vermeulen said.
They have 11 wins in their last 12 matches with Scotland – the exception a 21-17 loss in teeming Edinburgh rain in November 2010 – and have won all three of their meetings with the U.S.by at least 23 points.
Centres Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel also went off – de Villiers having to replace the latter whose face bore several bruises.
South Africa ruthlessly applied the pressure thereafter, with scrum-half Fourie du Preez outstanding in dictating the tempo.
“When I got injured yesterday and left the field”, he said, “I knew that I had played my last Test for South Africa”.