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Hard man

Jean de Villiers went back on the field with a broken jaw yesterday, but now he's out of the RWC

Jan Serfontein has been called up to replace the luckless skipper.

SPRINGBOK CAPTAIN JEAN de Villiers has played his last game for South Africa after suffering a broken jaw that will end his on-field involvement in this Rugby World Cup.

De Villiers, who plans to retire from Test rugby after the tournament, took a heavy blow to the right side of his jaw in the 72nd minute of the bruising win over Samoa, a statement from the South Africa camp confirmed today.

The 34-year-old was replaced by out-half Patrick Lambie, but despite the pain, De Villiers was back on the field within five minutes to slot back in at centre when Jesse Kriel sustained an injury.

“Jean is not only our captain and one of the most experienced players in the squad, but he is also the glue of this team and to lose him is very sad,” said head coach Heyneke Meyer, who has called up Jan Serfontein to replace his captain.

“After injuring his knee last November in Cardiff, he worked incredibly hard to get back to full fitness and the plans worked out perfectly, but rugby is a physical sport and injuries happen.

“We are all very heart-broken for him and we will miss his influence a lot. He has been very unlucky with injuries, but his character clearly showed when he had to go back on the field when Jesse Kriel picked up an injury.

“Jean has fought back from all his injuries and this is the kind of character and fighting spirit we will need to show going forward in this competition.”

Meyer described the injury as a ”huge and emotional set-back for the team.” A blow they were hardly braced for after the chastening experience of losing to Japan on the opening weekend.

Even after suffering that shock defeat and losing their captain, Meyer’s men sit top of Pool B after the bonus point win over Samoa and can take another big stride towards sealing that position when they face Scotland next weekend.

Meyer will name a new squad captain in midweek.

Here’s the Road to Recovery doc about Jean De Villiers’ return from a potential career-ending knee injury

This sublime through ball erased England’s 7-point advantage

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