Toyota Free State Cheetahs captain, Francois Uys, has lauded his teammate and lock partner, Lood de Jager, for his outstanding performance in the green-and-gold of the Springboks against the Wallabies during the Rugby Championship last week.
The Cheetahs’ beanstalk played for slightly more than 60 minutes in Brisbane during the side’s disappointing last minute 24-20 loss to Australia, and remarkably it was in his comeback match.
Before replacing the ageing Victor Matfield on the park, De Jager had just played 10 minutes of competitive rugby all year after dislocating his elbow during the Cheetahs’ opening game of the Super Rugby when they beat the Sharks 35-29 in Durban on 14 February.
A lot of emphasises has been placed on there not being a suitable number five lock in South Africa, hence Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer convincing Matfield to come out of retirement to fill the void in the Bok set up.
De Jager certainly answered some serious questions during his stint against the Wallabies and makes one wonder if Matfield is indeed the right man for the World Cup. Taking nothing away from Matfield’s illustrious career however, the De Jager – Eben Etzebeth combination had somewhat of a x-factor to it.
Uys told Courant that he is not surprised that the 2.05m tall, 125kg De Jager excelled during his 10th international cap.
“Lood is a great player, he is very physical. Eben and Lood are actually very similar kind of players and Lood is equally comfortable playing number four or five…which is a good thing for any coach to have.
“It think it’s a big bonus for Heyneke to have a guy like him, but we’re just proud of Lood, we just love seeing our Cheetahs boys doing well."
De Jager and Etzebeth are expected to be named at the starting second-row for Saturday’s test against the All Blacks, with Matfield struggling with a hamstring niggle.
Saturday’s test at Emirates Airline Park (Ellis Park), Johannesburg kicks off at 17:05.