Jean set for WP return

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The Cape Times understands that, if his rehabilitation goes according to schedule, the Springbok captain will play his first proper rugby match in eight months in a Currie Cup warm-up clash for WP against the Pumas in Franschhoek on July 18. Province then travel to Port Elizabeth a week later for another friendly against the Kings, where De Villiers is also expected to feature.

De Villiers will also play for WP in one or two rounds of the Currie Cup, which kicks off on August 7.

According to a reliable source, De Villiers will not feature for the Springboks in the match against the World XV at Newlands on July 11, or in the Rugby Championship, which starts a week later.

But the Bok captain could possibly play in the one-off Test match against Argentina in Buenos Aires on August 15 if he comes through the friendlies in good shape.

The classy centre dislocated his kneecap and sustained significant ligament damage during a Test against Wales in November. But he has been working very hard with the Springbok and Stormers’ medical staff following the sixth knee surgery to get himself ready for what would be his final appearance at rugby’s showpiece event.

De Villiers has trained with the Stormers over the last couple of weeks, but his participation in contact sessions has been minimal.

However, the veteran centre has looked really good on the ball, and it seems like he is quite comfortable stepping off his left knee, which still bares the scar from his latest knee surgery.

“Geez, he is looking sharp!” outgoing Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said a few weeks ago.

“He is doing well and he is energised. He is looking fresh, and I can see he just wants to get his hands on the ball and get a feel for it again.”

De Villiers’s absence from the Rugby Championship will open the door for Stormers teammate Damian de Allende to make the No 12 jersey his own.

De Allende was certainly the best South African centre, as he impressed with his powerful bursts and his ability to break tackles, stay on his feet and cross the advantage line.

De Allende made his debut for the Boks last year at outside centre, as Heyneke Meyer started looking for a strike runner in that channel following the international retirement of Jaque Fourie. However, De Allende didn’t really perform in the No 13 role.

Jan Serfontein or JP Pietersen should then feature at outside centre in the Springboks’ first match of the international season against the World XV.

Both players, though, weren’t really on their game this season, as Serfontein struggled with a few niggles and Pietersen grappled to adapt to the defensive demands of the outside centre position.

Juan de Jongh, who has had a steady season for the Stormers, could also feature next to his Stormers teammate in the No 13 jersey after he was invited to the Springbok camps held last month. - Cape Times

Original source: Jean set for WP return

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