Duane’s day to remember

Duane Vermeulen is finally a Springbok and one of two uncapped players for the Rugby Championship tour to Australia and New Zealand.

Johan Goosen is the other newbie, with recalls for Juan de Jongh and Bath-based Francois Louw.

‘Untimely injuries to Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Pierre Spies, JP Pietersen and Bjorn Basson have already hit us hard in the past few weeks. This again provides opportunities for other players to put up their hands,’ said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

‘We were very keen to give Siya Kolisi an opportunity on this tour, but he is also out injured, alongside a list of other injured or unavailable forwards that include Gurthrö Steenkamp, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Ryan Kankowski.’

Meyer confirmed he would have selected Vermeulen and Goosen in his initial Test squad but for injury to both players.

‘I regard both of them as world-class rugby players. If it wasn’t for injuries, Duane would have been a Springbok long ago. I also believe Johan has a long career ahead of him at Test match level and we will expose him when and how we feel it will benefit the player and the team best.

‘Both Juan and Francois played at the Rugby World Cup last year and are experienced players. Juan covers both positions in the midfield and we opted for Francois because he is a specialist openside flanker, in the absence of Schalk, Heinrich and Siya, that can cover blindside and No 8 as well, while he is also a very useful option in the lineout.

‘I’m also very excited with the quality of young talent coming through – Eben, Marcell and Johan are all still U21 and that bodes well for the future of Springbok rugby.’

Springbok squad – Willem Alberts, Andries Bekker, Craig Burden, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (c), Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Johan Goosen, Dean Greyling, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, Juandré Kruger, Pat Lambie, Tiaan Liebenberg, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Jacques Potgieter, Frans Steyn, Morné Steyn, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Jano Vermaak, Duane Vermeulen.