EASTBOURNE, England (Reuters) - South Africa captain Jean de Villiers has not taken to tucking a rabbit’s foot into his pocket, or under his pillow, even if his past Rugby World Cup experiences make turning to lucky charms quite understandable.
Injury has blighted the Springbok centre’s previous World Cups, with just a handful of his 107 caps over the last 13 years coming at the tournament.
“I haven’t had any time to get into good luck rituals at a World Cup because I’ve only slept two nights at past tournaments,” he joked about his unfortunate run.
“I’ve had bad luck but what’s in the past, is in the past,” he said as South Africa arrived at the weekend for the 2015 edition in England. “So be it, what will happen will happen.”
De Villiers missed out on the 2003 World Cup, some six months after he suffered a serious knee injury just five minutes into his debut against France.
He is officially a 2007 winner although he tore his biceps during the opening game of the tournament and took no further part.
At the last World Cup four years ago, he went off after just 25 minutes of the first game for the Boks against Wales in Wellington with a rib injury and made just a cameo appearance later on as South Africa exited in the quarter-finals.
De Villiers’ inclusion in the squad for this year’s tournament is something of a medical miracle.
Last November, he dislocated his kneecap and sustained significant ligament damage against Wales and was given little chance of playing again.
But he made a remarkable recovery to be recalled by coach Heyneke Meyer for the recent southern hemisphere Rugby Championship.
Then De Villiers broke his jaw last month against Argentina and is fighting to be fit for South Africa’s first Pool B game against Japan in Brighton.
“I never go into a game thinking about getting injured. I never play a game not to get injured either. It’s just about enjoying the occasion, it’s definitely my last, and making the most of it,” said the 34-year-old.
“When it’s done, it’s done so I want to make the most of it while I‘m still in it.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly; firstname.lastname@example.org; +447979846152; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: email@example.com