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Dr Jannie prepared swap his jersey for scrubs to help fight coronavirus if needed

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“If there’s a need for me to help out somewhere, I’d want to do that.”

JOHANNESBURG – Veteran South African prop, Jannie du Plessis, has said he will swap his jersey and boots for a stethoscope and scrubs were the need to arise following the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country.

The 37-year-old 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning tighthead prop who joined the Lions from Montpellier in France for this year’s Super Rugby competition, is a qualified medical doctor.

“If there’s a need for me to help out somewhere, I’d want to do that,” said Du Plessis, who also played for the Cheetahs and Sharks before moving to France four years ago. “At the moment there are just over 1 000 cases in the country and in my area, where I am at the moment, there is no need. I think our (medical and health) system is coping quite well with the current challenges we are facing. If this changed, however, and duty called, of course I’d help out where I could.

“The people in charge are doing a very good job, so up until now it’s not been necessary for me to consider it.”

Right now Du Plessis is on his family’s farm in the eastern Free State, in isolation following the suspension of his year’s Super Rugby competition.

Du Plessis said he couldn’t believe the world had basically come to a standstill because of a virus.

“When we went over on tour we’d heard about the coronavirus, but it was in China, half a world away,” Du Plessis said. “But since we arrived back in South Africa, it’s moved so quickly and things have happened so fast.

“I think. I now realise how serious this thing is, and what it could do to our country.”