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'South Africa could be just as p****d off with us injuring Lood'

By Liam Heagney

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson has no issue with the Springboks over Faf de Klerk coming back to the Gallagher Premiership club injured and facing up to five months on the sidelines due to a hip flexor issue that requires an operation. The scrum-half originally suffered the injury some months ago playing against the Lions but he played on with it during the Rugby Championship and it is only now that the issue is getting fully rectified. 

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Aside from de Klerk being unavailable for next month’s Springboks three-match tour of the UK, he will also miss a large chunk of the domestic season with Sale, but club boss Sanderson has refused to whine about the loss of his scrum-half even though he admits he is not happy about it. 

“People get injured all the time and South Africa could be just as p****d off with us injuring Lood (de Jager), for instance, which wasn’t intentional but he did get injured, broke his knee, broke his ankle and he was late to the Lions Test, late into camp. You can nit-pick on any one of these and start pointing fingers but I am not going to do that because you would end up being quite a bitter old man I would imagine. It [injuries] are part of the game,” shrugged Sanderson. 

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Jacques Nienaber pays tribute to the retiring Morne Steyn
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Jacques Nienaber pays tribute to the retiring Morne Steyn

“We had trouble getting the scans back from Australia for obvious reasons but we did get the radiologist’s report or at least Fares Haddad did who is the world-renowned specialist in this kind of surgery in London. He does all the footballers, I think he did Ronaldo. When it comes to that high level of expertise they don’t really give you options. It’s yes it needs an operation or no it doesn’t and you take his advice as gospel, but yeah it needs an operation. 

“It’s a ligament. From what I understand from the radiologist’s report – and I haven’t seen the scans so I could be wrong – there are two ligaments joined to your hip flexor and one of them is torn. Not through completely but it is on its last tendrils so it needs to be reconnected so that it is able to function properly because otherwise it would ultimately tear through and the other one would have too much strain on it to play the game so it needs redoing.”    

The prognosis is that de Klerk will likely be five months on the sidelines and won’t return to the Sale selection until March at the earliest but both the player and his coach are confident of an earlier return than that. “I’m hoping it is a bit less than that,” continued Sanderson. “Four maybe. He is a quick healer, Faf. He has only got little legs, there is not a lot to heal. You have got to stay positive. I am not happy about it but what can you do?

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“He is very positive. Optimism is a virtue of his. He has brought his girlfriend of his back from South Africa so that will keep him positive for a month or two. That was important to be fair because he needed looking after, especially when you are rehabbing, you need someone around to give you a cuddle, make you a cup of tea, and he has got that now. I’m happy for him in his personal life. If anyone is going to come back from an injury like this as strong and as motivated it is going to be him because he has got seemingly limitless energy.”

The hip flexor operation is something Marland Yarde, de Klerk’s backline teammate at Sale, had done when he was 18 and because the No9’s injury happened while on international duty with South Africa, the bills will be picked up by the Springboks and not by the Manchester-based club. “You can play through these things but not for a long period of time and he [Yarde] is looking sharper now after that (hip flexor operation) and a reconstruction than he has looked for a long time. So it is possible, more than possible, to come back. 

“They [South Africa] are picking up the tab. They have to. They are insured. It’s easy in hindsight to say yes they should have (not played him) but like I said last week, there is no organisation out there that goes out to deliberately injure a player or at that level to be that negligent. I don’t believe that, I can’t believe that they mistreated him deliberately.”

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