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Vermeulen the major Boks casualty as World Cup winner dropped

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ulster No.8 Duane Vermeulen appears to be the big name casualty as Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber named his 43-man squad for the Test season ahead.

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The veteran Springbok – who started in Ulster’s ill-fated semi-final with the Stormers in Cape Town this afternoon – is not mentioned in the SA Rugby statement, issued just minutes after the final whistle was blown.

The fine form of both Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee and Stormers’ bolter Evan Roos seemed to have cost the 35-year-old his spot. Elrigh Louw of the Bulls has also made the cut.

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The Springboks loose forwards listed in the squad include Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Marcell Coetzee (Vodacom Bulls), Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls), Evan Roos (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) and Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers).

If Vermeulen has been dropped, then it’s a huge but not totally unsuprising call for Nienaber and Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus a year out from the Rugby World Cup.

In recent weeks many have asked if the Springboks squad that appears to be lining up for the Rugby World Cup was a little stale, given so many of the 2019 Rugby squad appear to be going again.

Father time may also be a factor in Vermeulen’s omission. The back row  will be 37-years-old by time France 2023 comes around.

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There is the possibility that Vermeulen – who’s very much a known quantity – is being managed ahead of the World Cup, although there is no mention of him in the dispatch.

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Vermeulen is contracted to Ulster to 2023 but remains among the most popular players in South Africa, regardless of which jersey he pulls on.

In 2019, ‘Thor’ was crowned Player of the Match as South Africa stormed their way to World Cup victory, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy. With experience in both Super Rugby and the Top 14, he featured for the Springboks throughout their Autumn Nations Series campaign.

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