Duane to lead Boks into battle against England

Duane Vermeulen will be the Springbok captain in the three-Test series against England. Warren Whiteley, once he returns from injury, will take over as the leader of the Springboks. Pieter-Steph du Toit will captain the Springboks in the season’s opening Test against the Welsh.

Du Toit will start as captain and lock against Wales in the June 2 international in Washington DC, and will be among the match day substitutes for the June 9 series opener against England at Elllis Park in Johannesburg. Lions Franco Mostert and Bulls RG Snyman are expected to be the starting locks against England.

Whiteley was the 2017 Springbok captain but has missed most of the last year because of injury. In his absence, Eben Etzebeth captained the Springboks. Etzebeth is also injured and won’t play before the Rugby Championship in August and September.

Vermeulen, the former Stormers captain, also led Toulon on several occasions. He won’t be available for the Rugby Championships, but will be in the Test mix for the end of the year tour. Vermeulen, post June, will play in Japan on a short-term contract before returning permanently to South Africa for the 2019 Super Rugby season and also the RWC 2019 campaign.

Vermeulen has played 38 Tests for the Springboks and played in the 2015 World Cup.

Stormers captain Siya Kolisi and Bulls vice-captain Handre Pollard were other considerations to lead the Springboks against England. The word is that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus wants both players to focus on their form, without the additional responsibility of the captaincy.

Kolisi and Pollard are expected to start at flank and flyhalf respectively against England.

Elton Jantjies, the Lions flyhalf who was the Springboks’s No 10 against France and in the Rugby Championship in 2017, will start against Wales. He is also likely to be part of the match 23 to play England in Johannesburg.

Erasmus, who named a squad of 43 for the first two Tests, will confirm the Bok captain’s appointment on Monday. He will also name the squad of 26 to travel to Washington, with three scrumhalves and three hookers included in the travel group.