Coetzee denies Duane rift

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has dismissed claims of a fallout between himself and No 8 Duane Vermeulen.

Vermeulen was one of the glaring omissions from the Bok squad for the end-of-year tour, fuelling speculation of a feud between player and coach.

However, Coetzee explained that he'd had a long talk with Vermeulen before the decision was made to leave him out of the squad.

'Duane called me and said based on his last outing for the Boks, he felt he was not fit enough and at this point he is not ready for international rugby.

'On top of that, Duane's wife is expecting their second baby in November and for those reasons he is not available for the end-of-year tour.'

The Boks play an international friendly against the Barbarians on 5 November, followed by three Tests against England, Italy and Wales.

The opening Test at Twickenham is sure to be the headline fixture of the tour, and Coetzee said he had closely studied all of England Tests against Australia this past June, and insisted that the team would be well prepared.

'Eddie has done a great job. There is a lot of belief in the team and they have a monstrous and very physical pack. They are also very solid in defence. Several backs can kick the ball a mile to put the opposition under territorial pressure and ask them to run from deep.

'They also have in Owen Farrell a 95 percent successful goal-kicker. That is what we will be up against.'

Coetzee also intimated that they would treat the 'friendly' against the Barbarians as if it were a Test match in order to ensure they build momentum ahead of the encounters against England, Italy and Wales.

'Just because it is not a Test match against the Barbarians, that does not mean we are going there just to entertain.

'Firstly, it is a match that will set the tone for the rest of the tour. So we need to start well and play well. The Barbarians go out there to play entertaining rugby, but we want to win and set the tone for the Tests that come after it. We can’t play one way one week and a different way the next week.'

Photo: Gallo Images

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Mariette Adams