Aplon, Duane to miss Force clash

Gio Aplon and Duane Vermeulen have been ruled out of the Stormers’ final tour match with injury.

Aplon (hamstring) and Vermeulen (knee) are both on the way home to South Africa and will take no further part in the tour. While coach Allister Coetzee is likely to replace Aplon with Gerhard van den Heever, Vermeulen’s injury will have a greater impact on the team make-up.

Coetzee has the option of playing Nick Koster at No 8 but the injury to Vermeulen means that the Stormers have lost yet another captain. Andries Bekker is still with the Stormers’ touring group, and is believed he will be fit enough to take the reins. Otherwise Coetzee may turn to hooker Tiaan Liebenberg to fill the void.

Aplon is expected to be fit for the 12 May match against the Cheetahs, while Vermeulen will see a specialist in Cape Town before a time frame on his return is made public. The Stormers have confirmed that flank Don Armand and centre Berton Klaasen have flown to Perth as injury cover.

Eben Etzebeth (shoulder) is being managed and a call on his availability will only be made on Friday.