Just when it was felt that things were promisingly opening up for injury-prone Lood de Jager, the South African World Cup winner has suffered another injury setback, not only ruling him out of an intriguing head-to-head battle this weekend for Sale against La Rochelle giant Will Skelton but also casting a cloud over his availability to face the Lions.
Having battled back from shoulder operations in recent times, a run that began with a World Cup final injury versus England in November 2019, de Jager was expected to be in the Sale second row for last Sunday’s round of 16 Heineken Champions Cup tie away to Scarlets.
However, he was omitted from the Sharks XV and it emerged via a newspaper report in South Africa that the lock had suffered a fracture when landing after fetching a ball in the air during training. It was speculated that the 45-cap veteran would be a doubt for the Springboks to face the Lions as it was feared he could be out for up to three months.
Sale boss Alex Sanderson was hoping to hear back a far more encouraging prognosis, though, reporting that de Jager was in London having the injury checked out while the Sharks carried on preparations for this Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final away to La Rochelle.
“He is actually in London now finding out,” said Sanderson during his Tuesday evening Sale media conference ahead of the last-eight match in France. “Lood wants to be back in six weeks if it’s a clean break on his tibia.
REPORT: The Springboks could be without Lood de Jager for the British and Irish Lions tour according to reports from SA ?https://t.co/kSpHVbnepX
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 4, 2021
“If it is just down to this clean break it could be six to eight weeks and I’m crossing my fingers and saying my prayers for that, but there is something wrong with his knee and his meniscus, a meniscal tear or whatever. So that will determine the length of the rehabilitation period for him so we will see later.”
If de Jager had been fit he would have come up against fellow giant Skelton this weekend, a player Sanderson knows all about from his Champions Cup-winning time as an assistant at Saracens. “It would be a nice match-up that, Lood versus Skelts, Goliath versus Goliath,” he quipped.
“Lord is massive to us. Not just as a player that he is but he is a great leader and well-liked, well-respected within the squad so we will miss him for all of that. But there is not but in this – we did show at the weekend that we have got brilliant players who stepped in and did a fantastic job in his absence.
“We stepped up and put out one of the best performances there that we had all season. Yes, we will miss him but have we got the minerals to carry on without him? The answer is definitely yes, it’s proven.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 1, 2021
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