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'We expected some big losses and I think Duane is going to be one of them'

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus has resigned himself to ultimately not having Duane Vermeulen, the man of the match in the 2019 World Cup final, available for the three-game Test series against the Lions. The South African No8 was included in the 46-strong Springboks squad announced on Saturday for the upcoming matches against Georgia and the Lions. 

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However, that inclusion was hanging in the balance this weekend as Vermeulen was heading to Cape Town to get a scan on the serious-looking injury he suffered in Friday night’s Rainbow Cup win by the Bulls over the Stormers.   

Footage showed the soon-to-be 34-year-old Vermeulen nursing his ankle with ice after he limped off in the 33rd minute. Bulls boss Jake White suggested: “I’m hoping for his sake that it’s just a minor twist in his ankle.”

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However, the indications are that the injury will turn out much worse than that with South African director of rugby Erasmus fearing the big loss of the 54-cap No8 will soon be confirmed.  

Speaking at the Springboks media briefing following a squad announcement that included eight uncapped players, Erasmus said: “He [Vermeulen] is on his way to Cape Town. I personally didn’t speak to him. Jacques (Nienaber, Springboks head coach) spoke to him and the medical staff. I spoke to Jake 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 always expected there is going to be strength versus strength in this Rainbow Cup, that it is going to be six weeks of battle and we know South African derbies are brutal. 

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“So far we had actually been really lucky. If you look at what happened in Super Rugby Aotearoa and you look at all those injuries, Sam Cane, (Jack) Goodhue, they have lost a massive amount of players and we thought we were going to go the same route. 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.”

Erasmus and Nienaber named seven loose forwards and two utility forwards in the Springboks squad, with the uncapped Jasper Wiese of Leicester a timely selection in light of the Vermeulen injury. “Jasper, lucky for us he can play No8 with Duane’s injury now. You can’t ignore the form he is in. He is just the outstanding South African guy playing Premiership, he’s just knocking the door down.”

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'We expected some big losses and I think Duane is going to be one of them'

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