Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
5 Jun 2017
3:43 pm

Boks’ grand plan with Duane Vermeulen fails before it starts

Ken Borland

National coach Allister Coetzee needs some re-shuffling to do after the experienced flanker injured himself at the weekend.

Duane Vermeulen's return to the Springboks has been delayed again. Photo: AFP.

Experienced Springbok flanker Duane Vermeulen was ruled out of Saturday’s first Test against France at Loftus Versfeld on Monday.

But coach Allister Coetzee is not concerned about the 2014 South African Player-of-the-Year’s absence changing their game plan too much.

Also read: The Springboks’ secret weapon is a pretty simple one

The national team’s mentor had spoken at the squad announcement about Vermeulen being the ideal blindside flank to complement new captain Warren Whiteley at No 8.

Vermeulen though suffered a shoulder injury in French giants Toulon’s weekend Top 14 final loss to Clermont.

“You always have this vision of choosing your best possible team, but in reality it never happens. It’s most probably a severe a/c joint problem, but our medical staff will assess him when he gets back to South Africa,” Coetzee said in Pretoria.

“But it will cause little disruption because we have prepared with the players at the camp and their attitudes are good. But Duane does have massive experience and his knowledge of the French is also valuable.

“The way we want to play will obviously come into the equation when we choose his replacement, we will consider Duane’s assets as a player and in terms of what we are facing from the French. There’s no perfect fit, but I believe we can cover the best of what he can bring.”

The Springbok midfield has also lost its third centre for the first Test, with Damian de Allende and Lionel Mapoe joining Lukhanyo Am on the injured list.

De Allende is still suffering the effects of a haemotoma on the leg, while Mapoe has a hamstring strain.

Both should be fit for the second Test in Durban.

However, the door is now open for Frans Steyn to play inside centre, where he played a key role in the 2007 World Cup victory.

With Elton Jantjies the only specialist flyhalf in the squad, the 30-year-old Steyn will also provide crucial cover for the number 10 jersey.

“The injuries at flyhalf are obviously a concern. It’s not ideal but we can fall back on Frans, who is a seasoned, mature campaigner. He kicks well, he’s strong and he can clean up any messy situations. He’s also a good distributor and as an inside centre he understands the pressures a flyhalf faces,” Coetzee said.

For more sport your way, follow The Citizen on Facebook and Twitter.