South Africa captain Jean De Villiers says he is confident he will be fit to lead his side at the Rugby World Cup following knee surgery.
The centre underwent a full reconstruction of the anterior and posterior cruciate ligament, as well as having work done on his medial collateral ligament, after being caught in an awkward position at a ruck during the Springboks’ defeat to Wales at the end of November.
Initial reports suggested De Villiers was a serious doubt to make the start of the World Cup in September, a tournament his country are the 5.50 third favourites to win behind New Zealand and hosts England who are priced at 2.25 and 4.50 respectively.
At 33 years of age this could be the Western Province man’s last shot at winning global silverware and he will feel he is owed the opportunity, having been forced out of South Africa’s victory in 2007 after suffering a bicep injury in the group stages.
His absence would also prove a huge loss to the Boks, with his leadership of the side again earning plenty of plaudits over the last 12 months, especially in October’s 27-25 win over the All Blacks.
De Villiers has now confirmed he is back in light training and has promised he will do all he can to ensure he is ready to take part in his country’s opening group match against Japan on September 19.
“I’ve started swimming and doing some exercises on a static bicycle,” he said. “At the moment we’re still testing to see how the knee reacts to different movements and it’s looking good.
“It’s also great that we can count on the medical expertise of so many people and I’m grateful to everyone involved.”