South Africa’s Mapimpi says injury could have ‘destroyed’ him

Makazole Mapimpi (second from left) was ruled out of the World Cup after clashing heads with Tonga scrum-half Augustine Pulu

South Africa winger Makazole Mapimpi says he quickly had to overcome the devastation of being ruled out of the Rugby World Cup otherwise it could have “destroyed” him.

One of the stars of South Africa’s 2019 World Cup triumph in Japan, the 33-year-old fractured his cheekbone in the Springboks’ pool stage win against Tonga at this year’s tournament in France.

He was replaced in the squad by close friend Lukhanyo Am.

“It was painful,” Mapimpi told BBC Sport Africa before Saturday’s final against New Zealand at the Stade de France.

“But I think it was very important at the same time to go over that because if you keep it in your mind it may destroy you.

“I had to understand that it is sport and anything can happen.”

Mapimpi, the second South African ruled out of the World Cup after hooker Malcolm Marx who suffered a knee injury, says he could not have asked for a better replacement.

“It was good to see Lukhanyo take over my place,” he said. “We share everything – we chat, we share a room (when in camp), all this stuff.”

Am missed out on selection for the original squad after injuring his knee against Argentina in the Rugby Championship on 5 August in Buenos Aires.

“Anyone who is in that position and playing well, then all of the sudden he missed the squad because he was injured. So it was good that it was him and I’m proud,” Mapimpi said.

The winger, who is back in South Africa after having surgery, was working as a TV pundit when the Springboks fought back late on to beat England in a nail-biting semi-final.

“It was good to watch. I’m very proud of the boys for going to the final. I’m so excited and they deserve to be in the final.”

Saturday’s game against New Zealand will be the last for head coach Jacques Nienaber before his move to Ireland to take over at Leinster.

Mapimpi is “sad” to see Nienaber go, saying: “I’m sure he wants something different in his career. Such things happen and people move on.”


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