Wednesday 16 January 2019

De Villiers relieved to make century mark

Springboks captain Jean De Villiers cannot quite believe that he is about to play his 100th Test match, given he felt he might not even get a second after he destroyed ligaments in his knee, seven minutes into his debut.

The centre spent nine months recuperating after that test against France in Marseille in November 2002, returned to play a game as the Springboks warmed up for the 2003 World Cup in Australia, then suffered a shoulder injury.

He then spent another eight months in rehabilitation and said yesterday, as a younger man his resolve to return totop-class rugby had been tested.

"Yeah, it has been a long road," he said ahead of the Springboks' Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand on Saturday. "There were definitely times when I did not think Iwould get to number two.

"Making your international debut is always special, getting injured seven minutes into it is not what you dream about.

"Being out for nine months, coming back for the World Cup and getting 15 minutes then getting injured again in the warm up,another eight months out. You certainly test your character.

"I went through a lot of hard times but I believe I gotthrough it stronger.

"I never imagined I would get to 100. I feel very fortunatein that regard, because I never thought I would get to two."

De Villiers, who also missed all but 40 minutes of South Africa's successful 2007 World Cup campaign after tearing his bicep, will become his country's fifth centurion on Saturday.

Victor Matfield (114), John Smit (111), Percy Montgomery(102) and Bryan Habana, who brought up the mark in last week's 24-23 loss to the Wallabies, are the other members of the club.

Smit and Habana both lost their 100th test matches,something that South African media have suggested is acenturion's curse.

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