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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Returning Power
De Villiers set for return as Springboks issue optimistic RWC injury update
The ex-Munster centre may make his competitive comeback against Argentina.

FORMER MUNSTER CENTRE Jean de Villiers is in line to make his competitive return for South Africa against Argentina in two weekends’ time.

The 34-year-old was involved in a clash against the World XV earlier this month, but inclusion in the squad to face the Pumas in Durban on 8 August would mean his first competitive involvement for the Springboks since an horrific knee injury last November.

Simon Zebo and Jean de Villiers Cathal Noonan / INPHO De Villiers with Ireland's Simon Zebo after last November's Test in Dublin. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende have excelled in midfield for South Africa in recent weeks in the absence of de Villiers and Jan Serfontein, who is close to a return from his own hip and knee issues.

South Africa say that scrum-half Fourie du Preez and back row Willem Alberts could also come back into the squad for the meeting with Argentina, as the Boks issued an optimistic injury update ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September.

Tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and flanker Francois Louw will miss the clash against Argentina in Durban, as will Victor Matfield and JP Pietersen, but the Springboks’ medical team says none are World Cup worries.

World-class number eight Duane Vermeulen is “progressing well” following neck surgery earlier this month, while prop Coenie Oosthuizen is also continuing with his rehabilitation after a similar operation.

Centre Jan Serfontein, flanker Marcell Coetzee (knee), lock Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) and loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff (knee) will undergo further medical testing on Monday, with the hope being that they are all fit to play against Argentina.

Midfielder Frans Steyn and front row Frans Malherbe are two further players with plans of returning to match fitness in the coming weeks.

Duane Vermeulen James Crombie / INPHO South Africa say they are hopeful that Vermeulen will return for the RWC. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“All of these players have worked hard during their rehabilitation and although we still have to put them through a final assessment on Monday after we’ve re-assembled in Durban, I’m hopeful that they should be fit to face Argentina in at least one of the two forthcoming Tests,” said South Africa team doctor Craig Roberts.

“We’re continuing to work very hard with Duane and Coenie and at this stage it’s looking very likely that we will have a full complement of players available for selection when the final squad for the Rugby World Cup is named at the end of August.”

South Africa are not on Ireland’s side of the World Cup draw, meaning the sides could only meet in the final on 31 October.

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