Ver­meulen stuck in rugby catch-22

If he wants to lead the Spring­boks, he may face los­ing his salary from French club Toulon be­cause he’ll miss his club com­mit­ments

CityPress - - Sport - HEN­DRIK CRONJÉ sports@city­press.co.za

It seems that Duane Ver­meulen will have to choose be­tween his coun­try and his club if he wants to re­alise his dream of lead­ing the Spring­boks on the field. Should he choose the Boks, he runs the risk of not get­ting pay­ment from Toulon. Ac­cord­ing to bbc.com, Mourad Boud­jel­lal, the flam­boy­ant owner of Toulon, this week threat­ened to with­hold pay­ment from any player who was un­avail­able for June’s club com­mit­ments.

City Press’ sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, Rap­port, can con­firm that Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee has been in tele­phonic con­tact with Ver­meulen to in­form him of his plans for June’s three home tests against Ire­land.

How­ever, the Boks are now con­cerned about the avail­abil­ity of their 29-year-old eighth man af­ter Boud­jel­lal’s threat that Leigh Half­penny wouldn’t re­ceive any pay­ment should he join Wales’ tour of New Zealand.

In the end, the Red Dragons left him out of the team due to a knee in­jury, but they still plan on us­ing Half­penny later on and cross­ing the bridge with Toulon when they get there.

An SA Rugby Union (Saru) spokesper­son said they would only be cer­tainty about Ver­meulen’s avail­abil­ity af­ter a let­ter had been sent to Toulon, although the player should be ex­empted ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tion 9 of World Rugby. The un­cer­tainty re­gard­ing his Toulon salary is, how­ever, cre­at­ing doubt about his avail­abil­ity.

Ver­meulen and Fran­cois Louw aren’t the only over­seas play­ers Coet­zee has cho­sen for his team. The Bok coach has also taken notice of the good per­for­mance of var­i­ous other over­seas play­ers.

Play­ers such as Bis­marck du Plessis and Frans Steyn have thus far been the stars in the Mont­pel­lier team, who claimed a 26-19 vic­tory over Har­lequins in the fi­nal of the Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup on Fri­day.

Jo­han Goosen is play­ing good rugby for Rac­ing Metro, while it is still un­clear what Coet­zee’s plans are for play­ers such as Zane Kirch­ner (Le­in­ster), Schalk Brits (Sara­cens), Fran­cois Hougaard (Worces­ter War­riors), Hein­rich Brüs­sow (Do­como Red Hur­ri­canes), An­dries Bekker (Ko­belco Steel­ers), Ruan Pien­aar (Ul­ster), Jannie du Plessis (Mont­pel­lier), Morné Steyn and Willem Al­berts (both Stade Français).

[We’ll] only be cer­tain about Ver­meulen’s avail­abil­ity af­ter a let­ter has been sent to Toulon, though he should be ex­empt ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tion 9

Coet­zee plans to an­nounce his first Bok group of 31 on May 28, af­ter the last Su­per Rugby match. He al­ready vis­ited the Li­ons, Chee­tahs and South­ern Kings this week and will see the other Su­per Rugby fran­chises next week.

Af­ter his visit to the Chee­tahs, it was an­nounced that Lood de Jager, Fran­cois Ven­ter, Sergeal Petersen and Oupa Mo­hoje would all play against ei­ther the Ir­ish or the Eng­land Sax­ons in June.

A South Africa A group of 23 play­ers for the matches against the Sax­ons would also be an­nounced on May 28.

Play­ers cho­sen for the Bok group but not con­sid­ered for the games against Ire­land will be avail­able for the A team. It is un­der­stood that play­ers such as Edgar Marut­lulle (South­ern Kings), Garth April (Sharks) and Court­nall Skosan (Li­ons) are among the play­ers be­ing con­sid­ered for the A team.

PHOTO: STEVE HAAG / GALLO IM­AGES

CO­NUN­DRUM come June Duane Ver­meulen might be forced to choose be­tween the Spring­boks and his French club Toulon

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