Springbok stalwart Bismarck du Plessis is not going to rush his return to the playing field.
The 28-year-old, who underwent surgery after he tore knee ligaments in the first Test of the Rugby Championship (against Argentina in August), is making good progress on the road to full recovery.
However, the 46-Test hooker admitted that he will miss the start of the Super Rugby season.
The expected return is eight to nine months, post-surgery.
"However, I don't want to put a date to it, there are sometimes complications or the healing process is faster than expected," Du Plessis told the Sharks' website.
"I'll play when I am ready," he added.
"My rehab is going really well, every day there's an improvement, every day I feel better.
"We've been training for about seven weeks to get some motion and mobility back in my leg and to bulk the leg up a bit. It is tough, but I am starting to push it now.
"It was a big operation, for a rugby player, the cruciate ligament is just that - crucial. I am struggling, I have a great doctor who I have seen a few times since the operation and he's very happy with the operation and progress and he believes the healing process is going according to plan. We have been working closely together and everything is going really well."
Ever the consummate professional, Du Plessis is doing everything necessary - with commitment - to build the strength and mobility back into the area.
However, he would love nothing more than to be with his Springbok teammates on their year-end tour.
"To be honest, at the moment I can't take any positives out of the break from rugby," he admitted.
"I would have loved to play in the Currie Cup Final for the Sharks and definitely being involved in Test match rugby; that's where you want to test yourself as a rugby player, at a higher level, playing in finals and Springbok rugby."
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