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'Five to 16 weeks... surgeon will know once he has opened it up and had a good look'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has his fingers crossed that Duane Vermeulen can enjoy a Jesse Kriel-like renaissance and somehow recover in time from ankle surgery to play some part in his country’s three-Test series versus the touring Lions. 


Kriel missed six weeks of Super Rugby action following ankle ligaments surgery in May 2019 but was able to go and play for the Springboks at the World Cup, and Nienaber is hoping that the damage suffered by Vermeulen isn’t way more severe than what Kriel had.  

Although selected in the 46-strong squad announced last Saturday for the tour, Vermeulen limped off injured the previous night in the Bulls’ Rainbow Cup win over the Stormers and it left Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus fearing the worst about the player who was man of the match in the World Cup final versus England.

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“He [Vermeulen] is on his way to Cape Town,” reported Erasmus on Saturday. “I personally didn’t speak to him. Jacques spoke to him and the medical staff. I spoke to Jake (While, Bulls coach) about him.

“What can you say? It looked bad and Duane won’t limp off with an ankle, he won’t limp off the field so early. We are fearing for the worse… we know South African derbies are brutal. Touchwood next week in the last round we don’t lose a lot of players but we expected some big losses and I think Duane is going to be one of them.”

With the Springboks ramping up their preparations with a gathering Bloemfontein, Nienaber provided an update on the situation regarding Vermeulen at a virtual media briefing where he ironically sat alongside the aforementioned Kriel. “Duane gets operated today [Wednesday],” said Nienaber. “He has got the ankle injury and went for scans and stuff. He is getting surgery done today and the feedback that I have got is hopefully the surgery goes well and then the rehab goes well. 


“Jesse had a similar injury. Obviously, we can’t discuss injuries because of all the privileged information and stuff like that, but some players come back from five weeks to 16 weeks depending on the severity of the injury and the surgeon will probably know that once he has opened it up and had a good look at what is going on inside. 

“Listen, anything from five to 16 weeks covers all bases. Certain players have got back very quickly. Jesse had a similar op, like I said, before the World Cup in 2019 and he was back quick but then depending on the severity, it might be a long-term injury. We will have more feedback on that after the surgery.”




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