Bulls coach provides update on Vermeulen’s fitness

Bulls head coach Jake White has given an update over whether Duane Vermeulen will be available for the third Test between the Springboks and British & Irish Lions next Saturday.

White was speaking after the Bulls’ comprehensive 34-13 victory over Western Province in a Currie Cup clash at Newlands on Friday evening.

Vermeulen has been undergoing rehabilitation on his serious ankle injury, which required surgery and led to doubts over his availability for the Lions series.

Over the past few weeks, Vermeulen has been posting videos of him undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy as part of his rehabilitation process.

Vermeulen missed the first two Tests against the British & Irish Lions. Kwagga Smith and Jasper Wiese have been handed subsequent starts at No 8 in his absence.

The 35-year-old made a surprise return to the sidelines as a waterboy in the Bulls’ recent home fixtures and, according to White, has been “actively” taking part in training.

However, White said it was unlikely that he will be available for next week’s potentially decisive third Test of the Lions series.

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“He was pushing really hard to see if he could be available [for the third Test] next week,” White explained.

“I think it is probably a bridge too far.”

White added that Vermeulen’s return will depend on if the Springbok coaches want to throw him straight into a Test match without playing any domestic rugby first.

“Whether they want him to go straight into a Test match or whether they want him to play provincial rugby, I will have to find out from Rassie or Jacques.

“His rehabilitation is going really well.

“If all things continue to go as well as it is, he is probably three to four weeks away [from playing].

“He is working hard at getting back into shape, to make himself available for selection. He spends a lot of time with our medical staff, who are helping him with his rehabilitation.”

Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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Dylan Jack