Updated at 19.20pm
South Africa 46World XV 10
NINE MONTHS AFTER sustaining a dislocated knee and ligament damage, South Africa captain Jean de Villiers completed his remarkable comeback this afternoon.
There were fears the 34-year-old would be forced to call time on his career after suffering the injury during the Springboks’ defeat to Wales in Cardiff last November.
However, de Villiers has completed months of rigorous rehabilitation and was a second-half substitute during South Africa’s 46-10 victory over the World XV in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.
His introduction was met by a standing ovation from the Newlands crowd.
“It was awesome to be back,” said the 34-year-old, who showed no ill effects of his long absence and made a break to set up the fifth of seven Springbok tries.
“I felt fine and it was very emotional running on to the field with the crowd cheering me. It is so nice to be back.”
Willie le Roux scored a hat-trick of tries during the non-cap exhibition match as the Springboks began their preparations for the Rugby Championship in style.
Eben Etzebeth and Cobus Reinach also crossed the line while Damian de Allende helped himself to a brace.
It was an encouraging start to an important few months for the Springboks. Source: AP/Press Association Images
The World XV’s try came courtesy of hooker Craig Burden before the interval.
Another plus for the hosts was an impressive debut by outside centre Jesse Kriel, 21, who switched seamlessly from his usual full-back position.
Although it was a complete performance with Handre Pollard missing four kicks at goal while Francois Loux and le Roux both spent time in the sin-bin.
South Africa play Australia in Brisbane next Saturday in the opening round of a Rugby Championship trimmed from six rounds to three because of the World Cup in England.
The Springboks host New Zealand in Johannesburg on July 25 and Argentina in Durban on August 8 before playing a Test against the South Americans in Buenos Aires a week later.
Full-back Willie le Roux scored three times as SA outclassed their opponents. Source: AP/Press Association Images
Drawn with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States in Pool B at the World Cup during September and October, South Africa are hot favourites to top the mini-league and reach the quarter-finals.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jean de Villiers.
World XV: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 David Smith, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Bakkies Botha, 4 Ali Williams, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Flip Van der Merwe, 20 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Rudi Wulf.
Additional reporting from © AFP, 2015
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