Jean de Villiers enjoyed an amazing, and successful, rugby career, playing at the highest level for the Stormers and South Africa.
Yet the man who played 109 Tests for the Springboks, and who owns a Rugby World Cup winner’s medal, is perhaps better recognised as one of the most unlucky players in the game given his appalling injury record.
He suffered numerous knee, shoulder and jaw injuries through his career, which drew to a close during a final injury-blighted campaign that featured just two games with English club Leicester Tigers after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The former Springboks captain has illustrated the toll of his injuries by showing off what he described as “a loose” knee.
Playing in the SuperSport Shootout golf tournament at Pearl Valley Golf Estate, de Villiers said in a video posted to former Springboks teammate John Smit’s Instagram account that “there’s a problem with my knee… it’s feeling a bit loose”.
De Villiers made his Test debut against France in Marseille in 2002. but he played just a handful of minutes before sustaining a knee injury; that was to prove only to be the start.
He missed the 2003 Rugby World Cup with a shoulder injury, and played just the opening fixture, against Samoa, in South Africa’s title-winning campaign in 2007, as he tore a biceps muscle.
He suffered a rib injury in South Africa’s opening match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, against Wales, and was ruled out of the 2015 tournament, for which he had been named the Springboks’ captain, after fracturing his jaw in the team’s second match — against Samoa.
He retired from rugby having captained South Africa in 37 Tests, scoring 27 tries.