Big milestone looming for Lood de Jager

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Having made his debut in 2014, de Jager, 28, had times when he wondered if he would ever play again, let alone reach 50 Tests.

 

"I have had a few more injuries than the normal guy, but that is just part of my journey. You suffer those setbacks. Then you come back stronger. Every injury, as bad and disappointing as it is, is just part of your journey. You must see it like that," he said.

 

Knowing what is required to come back from injury at least gave him an advantage as the Springboks finally returned to Test rugby after 20 months in the wake of their 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph.

 

Even that memory had an injury taint for him, as he was forced from the field 20 minutes into the final against England with a dislocated shoulder.

 

Their Test against Georgia before the British & Irish Lions series was the first after they didn't play during 2020. That time out of the game at the highest level meant they had some catching up to do, but he said with each game, he and his teammates were getting stronger.

 

"None of us really had the preparation ahead of the Lions series we would have liked. I also got Covid-19. With no preseason to get properly up to speed, it is difficult to get match fit," he said.

 

 

"Match fitness is hard to get when you are a naturally fit guy. I am not the best in training. Nothing comes close to match intensity, and what you need in a game."

 

Despite the ins and outs with injuries during his career, de Jager had seen it all with the side. World Cup, and Rugby Championship, wins in 2019 had been better than shock defeats by Japan and Italy, and also the 57-0 thrashing by the All Blacks in Albany in 2017.

 

"I have been fortunate to experience some real highs of Springbok rugby, but there have been some real lows that I have been part of too. I believe everything happens for a reason," he said.

 

He will lock the Springbok scrum against Argentina with Marvin Orie who, while playing his fourth Test, will be starting for the first time.

 

"He's really impressed me with his work rate and how hard he worked for us for the Lions series," de Jager said.

 

"The standards he keeps in training are very high, and he's an intelligent guy. He understands the lineout and he works hard. He knows his role and he understands what he needs to do, and I think he'll do a good job for us on Saturday," he said.

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