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