South African skipper De Villiers all set for Eastbourne training camp but remains fitness doubt for World Cup

Jean de Villiers
Jean de Villiers

South African rugby captain Jean de Villiers remains a major doubt for the opening World Cup clash against Japan at the AMEX Stadium.

De Villiers, who has 107 caps for the Springboks, will arrive at their Eastbourne training camp next month along with his teammates as they fine tune their preparations for their Pool B game against Japan in Brighton on September 19.

The 34-year-old had spent eight months on the sidelines following a serious knee injury sustained against Wales in November.

Months of gruelling rehabilitation saw him return to action but he suffered a further injury as he fractured his jaw during South Africa’s recent 37-25 defeat by Argentina in Durban.

The loss of De Villiers would deliver a huge blow for South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer.

South Africa will use Eastbourne College’s pitches at their Memorial Ground for their outdoor training, and the fitness suites at the University of Brighton for their indoor training prior to their first match against Japan.

The Memorial Ground will be surrounded with privacy hoarding throughout the training period.

Speaking recently on Skype to the College director of sport Mike Harrison, ahead of their trip to the sunshine coast, De Villiers said, “We are looking forward to the sunshine! But one of the great things about being a professional rugby player is you travel around the world and you get to see new places.

“I have been playing for 15 years. I have been to quite a few places but I have never been there (Eastbourne) so it’s quite exciting to go to new places and meet new people.

“Rugby gives you the opportunity to go all over the world but also to meet new people and make new friends.

“For us that’s important. We will try and do as much as we can during the week and hopefully became part of the community and hopefully get a little more support there.”

Of the significance of rugby to South Africans he added, “The majority of South Africans, especially boys, get brought up with rugby.

“It is something you watch at weekends, you play at school, it is just part of our lifestyles.

“That helps with the success of the national side, it’s part of the culture and everybody feels part of the Springbok team.

“With that comes a responsibility and we know we have to perform every time we take to the field.”

“As South Africans we just love rugby and hopefully that can continue for a long time and hopefully the team can be successful for a long time.”