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.