Lood de Jager is a man on a mission at Sale, arriving back into the Gallagher Premiership club on crutches just two days after his most recent operation with a view to getting stuck into his rehabilitation and accelerating the process to ensure he will be in the mix for the Springboks when they host the Lions in South Africa in July.   

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The 28-year-old Springboks lock tore his meniscus when landing during a lineout drill at training in the build-up to Sale’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 match at Scarlets on April 4. It was feared the injury would rule him out the Lions tour but he has bounced back in determined fashion and is hoping to add to his 45-cap haul when the Boks get back playing for the first time since the 2019 World Cup final. 

So one-track-minded has de Jager been about his latest setback that he even told his surgeon that must perform his best operation ever, and he then packed off his family to South Africa to begin his rehab without distraction rather than heading home himself and spending some time with his folks.

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Kurtley Beale guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload with Simon Zebo and Ryan Wilson

It’s an attitude that has left new Sale boss Alex Sanderson hugely impressed and admitting he will be really proud if de Jager makes it back in time to line up for the Springboks versus the Lions in just over 13 weeks’ time. “He has done something to his meniscus, a tear, and they have had to stitch that back up,” said Sanderson when asked by RugbyPass for the latest update regarding the second row who missed the end to the 2019/20 league season with a shoulder issue.

“If it wasn’t for that it could be six to eight weeks but with that, it’s more like twelve weeks. He won’t make the back end of this season but he will make pre-season and at the very best he could feature on the Lions tour all being fit.”

Quizzed on the attitude shown by de Jager in the face of his latest injury adversity, Sanderson added: “I’m constantly amazed and surprised by this fella. I said ‘go home’ to him. He hadn’t seen his parents (in a while). When you get a big injury like that on the back of another injury, I’m sure he would like to go and see his folks. 

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“He has sent his missus home and his kid and he is still here to do rehab by himself. He is staying in one of the lad’s houses because he can’t get around. He is so keen to get back on it. Positive in terms of being able to come back and be back stronger. He is a brilliant advocate for anyone who gets injured and goes around kicking stones. 

“He’s like, ‘Right, I’m injured. Get me in’. He threatened the surgeon he better do a good job, the best job he has ever done. Threatened him – and then two days later he is on here on crutches, he is in the meetings, he is playing his music in the gym. 

“He brilliant and he is still contributing in meetings, is still doing the lineout analysis. The guy is massively helping us even though he is not playing… too right I will be really proud (if he plays against the Lions). He should do, he has been playing his best rugby.”

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