Bismarck du Plessis has revealed the true severity of the injury that prevented his call-up to the Springboks last June, writes CRAIG LEWIS for SARugbyMag
If one recalls, Du Plessis and fellow Montpellier-based stalwart Frans Steyn were originally named in the first Springbok squad of 2018, before being belatedly ruled out due to injuries that denied their involvement in the June Test series against England.
Although there was a lack of clarity around the nature of the injuries at the time, in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine, Du Plessis describes just how he played through the pain in an effort to contribute to Montpellier’s progression to last season’s Top 14 final.
‘[When I got the Bok call-up] I was as happy as the first time I was selected for the Springboks, but then disaster struck. I had been struggling for an extensive period with pins and needles down my left arm, and I maybe should have stopped playing, but in the moment, a desire to help my team made me take risky decisions.’
It got to a stage where Du Plessis was taking pain medication every two to three hours, while needing to drive with a pillow under his left arm in order to help alleviate the pain. Nevertheless, he battled on to start in the Top 14 title decider.
‘I am a little ashamed of what I did,’ he admits. ‘It was irresponsible, and in retrospect my intention to help the team did not bring about that effect. I was playing with pain and here I was always telling people never to play with neck pain or nerve pain down your arm and not following my own advice.
‘Would I do it again though? Probably, yes. Montpellier is a young club and we have never won the Top 14, so I was hoping that by giving my extra 1% to the team, it may contribute towards winning the title.
‘Unfortunately the final was a disaster for us [with Montpellier suffering a shock 29-13 defeat to Castres], and on top of it my condition worsened to the point that I was out for the Springboks and had to get an operation on my neck [to remove a massive hernia]. I ended up missing a part of the new season for the club as well after the operation, and it set me back a bit.
‘To play for the Springboks is obviously the greatest honour for any South African, but I was sadly genuinely injured.’
The full article can be found in the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week!
Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP