Wel­come back to the Boks, Duane


JO­HAN­NES­BURG: Duane Vermeulen has seem­ingly made an im­me­di­ate im­pact on his Spring­bok coaches and the play­ers af­ter join­ing the squad late on Mon­day as an in­jury re­place­ment for prop Coe­nie Oosthuizen.

The 31-year-old has yet to fea­ture for the Boks un­der coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee but af­ter Satur­day’s 38-3 de­feat by Ire­land it is al­most cer­tain the Toulon-based loose-for­ward will have a role to play in Satur­day’s Test against France in Paris.

As­sis­tant coach Franco Smith yes­ter­day lauded the im­pact of Vermeulen, who could form a loose trio with Fran­cois Louw and Siya Kolisi for the Paris clash – a com­bi­na­tion that will have a very Western Prov­ince and Storm­ers ring to it.

Af­ter his first train­ing ses­sion with his new team-mates, at­tack coach Smith said: “I think Duane’s ex­pe­ri­ence is of enor­mous value to us. We be­lieve the right process was fol­lowed with him, to al­low him to get some game time for his club fol­low­ing an ex­tended pe­riod out due to in­jury.”

Vermeulen was in Toulon’s start­ing team 10 days ago for the match against Agen, but the Top 14 went on an ex­tended break from last week­end to al­low for this month’s in­ter­na­tional fix­tures in Europe.

Vermeulen will bring much-needed ex­pe­ri­ence to the Bok pack, and team as a whole – some­thing Smith said would boost the side af­ter last week­end.

“Duane has a wealth of knowl­edge of the French game and it is good to have his calm­ness and con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence in our en­vi­ron­ment. We lacked a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence (last week­end) and it’s great to wel­come him at this stage of the tour.

“He was in our plans from the start but in­jury came at a wrong time for him,” said Smith.

Al­though the Boks won the home se­ries 3-0 against France in June, Smith echoed the words of Coet­zee, who said the French will be a very dif­fer­ent side in Paris.

“They played New Zealand last week­end and they are a much changed and more de­ter­mined side,” said Smith.

“Play­ing at night will def­i­nitely in­flu­ence the match con­di­tions and I ex­pect them to come re­ally hard at us in front of their sup­port­ers. Our train­ing has gone well so far this week and we know we have to front up to a great chal­lenge on Satur­day (9.45pm SA time kick-off ).

Coet­zee will an­nounce his­match 23 to­mor­row.

Mean­while, Satur­day’s match will be the last Test for for­wards coach Jo­han van Graan, who leaves to be­come head coach of Mun­ster in Ire­land – the po­si­tion for­merly oc­cu­pied by Rassie Eras­mus, who is back in South Africa to take charge as na­tional di­rec­tor of rugby.

Duane Vermeulen

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