Lood de Jager. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEE WARREN
Lood de Jager. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEE WARREN

Springboks lock Lood de Jager is excited by the healthy competition among the players as the South Africans intensify their preparations for the World Cup in Japan in September.

The Boks open their account at the tournament with a blockbuster clash against defending champions New Zealand at the Yokohama Stadium on September 21.

Coach Rassie Erasmus experimented with combinations during their successful Rugby Championship campaign and De Jager said on Tuesday there is camaraderie even among players who are competing for the same positions.

De Jager will make a welcome return to Springbok action this weekend at his old stomping ground as he has fully recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in Super Rugby against the Jaguares in March.

“The guys who have been playing have done a great job and there is strong and healthy competition in the squad.

“I must emphasise on the words “healthy competition’ … it is not about guys being nasty to each other but looking out for each other.

“That is what helped us win the Rugby Championship‚” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot, who said they have a lot of good players at their disposal, which makes competition for places tough.

“We have a lot of good players, and if you look at Schalk Brits, he hasn’t had a start but he is in our squad‚” he said.

“Competition for positions at the moment is incredible and the players are really pushing each other.

“The guys who are outside of it must go out and perform because those that have been selected are doing the same.

“We also have to respect what the guys are doing for their provinces because they bring form to the team.”

The shoulder injury prevented De Jager from bidding farewell to the Loftus faithful as he is joining English Premiership side Sale Sharks after the World Cup.

“I am excited to be back at Loftus because I didn’t get a chance to finish it off with the Bulls like I wanted to because of the injury‚” he said.

“It is a massive opportunity for me this weekend‚ especially playing at Loftus because I have loved playing there.

“It is going to be a big Test match for us because Argentina are coming here with a mission. They will be hurt after last weekend, where we beat them at home to win the Rugby Championship.

“They are coming here with something to prove and it is up to the guys who have been on the sidelines for a while to prove our worth.

“But the whole team is excited for the game.”

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