Boks, Vermeulen remain upbeat despite ankle surgery

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber says the team management has no plans to call up a replacement for injured No 8 Duane Vermeulen at this stage.

After travelling to Cape Town and undergoing scans, the severity of Vermeulen’s injury was confirmed and he is set for several weeks on the sidelines.

The 34-year-old underwent successful surgery on his ankle on Wednesday.

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With the first Test taking place on 24 July, Vermeulen has less than seven weeks to recover if he hopes to fulfil a career goal of facing the Lions as a Springbok.

When speaking to Brenden Nel of, before he had gone under the knife, Vermeulen said he was determined to make it back in time.

‘I’m not sure how long it means I’m out but I’m going to do everything in my power to be ready to play against the Lions,’ Vermeulen said.

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On Wednesday, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber, in an online media conference along with Bok centre Jesse Kriel, was asked for an update on how Vermeulen’s surgery had gone.

‘I think Duane is getting operated on today [Wednesday],’ Nienaber said. ‘Obviously, he got the ankle injury and went for scans. I think he is getting treated surgically today. The feedback that I got is that hopefully the surgery goes well and then hopefully the rehab goes well.

‘Jesse had a similar injury – obviously we can’t discuss privileged information – but it is something some players can come back from in anything from five to 16 weeks. It depends on the severity of the injury. The surgeon will know that once he has opened it up and had a good look at what is going on inside.

‘I said when they told me anything from five to 16 weeks, “Hell, you guys are covering your bases”. Like I said, Jesse had a similar op just before the 2019 World Cup and he was back quickly. But depending on the severity, it might still be a long-term injury.  We will have more feedback after the surgery.’

As it stands, the Springboks do have cover at No 8 in Jasper Wiese and Dan du Preez, who were included in the 46-man squad this past Saturday.

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It has also been thought that Marcell Coetzee could also be in line for a call-up to the squad should the need arise.  Coetzee, able to cover both No 8 and flank, was left out of the 46-man squad, with both Rassie Erasmus and Nienaber highlighting the importance of him getting some more game time after also recently recovering from a long-term injury.

However, Nienaber went further to explain in Wednesday’s briefing that the Springboks have no plans to call up any replacements at this stage.

‘No. We had a discussion about that and we are not necessarily now going to get someone in for Duane,’ Nienaber said. ‘We are not.’

An alternative plan could be for the Springboks to shift captain Siya Kolisi from openside flank to No 8, with Jean-Luc du Preez coming in to start in the No 6 jersey.

Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

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Dylan Jack