Duane fit for Samoa clash

Duane Vermeulen is available for selection while Willem Alberts could also make a timely return when the Springboks tackle Samoa on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Birmingham.

Vermeulen has been sidelined since the back end of the Super Rugby tournament with a neck injury. According to the Bok medical team, Vermeulen has made progress in his rehabilitation and is on track to return to the playing field in the second game of South Africa’s World Cup campaign.

‘Duane has been participating in all the training, and is fit and available for selection,’ Bok team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed from South Africa’s base in Birmingham. ‘We have more contract sessions planned for him in the coming week. Of course, it is up to the coach who will play against Samoa.’

It shouldn’t even be a point of debate. The Boks have certainly missed Vermeulen’s physical presence at the gainline and breakdowns, as well as his ability to marshal the defence.

South Africa’s three-game losing steak in the Rugby Championship included a shock defeat to Argentina. And most recently, they lost to Japan, a side ranked No 13 in the world.

Alberts is another key player who was forced to miss the game in Brighton because of injury. Roberts said he was optimistic about the blindside flanker recovering in time to feature against Samoa.

‘Willem felt some discomfort in his calf [at the captain’s run last Friday]. If we pushed him to play, there was a chance of him aggravating the injury and perhaps missing the rest of the tournament.

‘We will reassess Willem at training on Monday. I’m not too concerned, and confident he will be back soon.’

In other injury news, prop Trevor Nyakane twisted his hip in the game against Japan, and will be managed in training over the coming week. Roberts said he expects Nyakane to recover in time for the Samoa clash.

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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