Duane in for the long run, despite Rugby Championship absence

Duane Vermeulen, who has been colossal for the Boks in making his international return will unfortunately not feature in one game of the Rugby Championship. However he remains a huge part of Rassie Erasmus’ World Cup plans.

Vermeulen, who is out of contract with Toulon, is set to do a stint in Japan for their 2018/19 season. Other reports indicate an interest from English club Bath, following his Japanese move, as well as the Bulls who are also reportedly vying for Vermeulen’s services. Regardless, the number 8 will not feature in this year’s rugby championship. While he was in integral to the Bok series win, his absence does pave way for the chance to play Warren Whiteley (should he be fully fit), who was tipped to be Springbok captain prior to his injury struggles this year.

Erasmus has made a clear point of player management in terms of game time and fatigue leading up to the World Cup as well as his intentions to have a fully experienced and capable squad of 30 plus rather than simply a quality starting XV. So while Vermuelen’s presence will be missed in the Bok set up come August, his rest coupled with the rotation of other players will ultimately be beneficial for Springbok rugby in the long term.

While he was not clear his club future, Vermeulen acknowledged that he would miss being a part of the national set-up during the Rugby Championship.

“It will be difficult not to be part of it but we’ve got the plan and I have spoken to Rassie about it. I think there is still more time in the coming weeks to work out exactly what we want to do,” Vermeulen said.

“It’s great being back and being part of a young squad of guys who are excited to play. It’s great to pull this green jumper over your head again.

“I’m really happy to be back and I hope to be a part of the Tests down the road. It’s a great team, we’ve got a great captain and the guys just need to stick together.

“This is a nice phase for us to build towards the World Cup and if I can be a part of that I will give 110%.”

Concerns were raised following the sight of a limping Vermuelen in the latter part of Saturday’s test.

“I got cleaned out at the one breakdown,” he explained.

“I’ve never torn a hamstring so I don’t really know how it feels. It feels like a cramp, but I can still feel it. I don’t know, we’ll asses on Monday.”

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