Play­ers who should start for Boks, Ver­mue­len joins team for France clash

The Witness - - SPORT -

CAPE TOWN — Ex­pe­ri­enced No. 8 Duane Ver­meulen has been called up to the Spring­bok squad as re­place­ment for tight­head Coe­nie Oosthuizen, who sus­tained a se­ri­ous knee in­jury on Sat­ur­day in Dublin.

Oosthuizen un­der­went a scan be­fore fly­ing home from Dublin, and the re­sults showed that he has sus­tained me­dial col­lat­eral (MCL) and an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment (ACL) dam­age, which will re­quire surgery and an ex­tended pe­riod of time out of the game.

Ver­meulen, who plays for French club Toulon, joined the Spring­bok squad yes­ter­day at their base in Paris.

He has been capped 37 times by the Boks, with all of those com­ing in the No. 8 jersey.

Ver­meulen is likely to re­place loose for­ward Pieter­Steph du Toit, who will miss Sat­ur­day’s Test against the French be­cause of a con­cus­sion he suf­fered against Ire­land.

He left the field in the clos­ing min­utes of play af­ter re­ceiv­ing a blow to his head.

The Boks started their preparations with a gym and field train­ing ses­sion yes­ter­day.

The team to play against France at the Stade France will be con­firmed on Thurs­day.

Sat­ur­day’s match kicks off at 9.45 pm (SA time).

Al­lis­ter Coet­zee will sure be look­ing to turn things around in the re­main­ing Test matches against France, Italy and Wales to stand any chance of see­ing out the new year as the na­tional coach.

Ac­cord­ing to Sport24, the fol­low­ing young­sters stand a good chance of mak­ing the start­ing line­up for Sat­ur­day.

Han­drè Pol­lard

It is surely time to hand the Bulls pivot his first Bok start since the 2015 Rugby World Cup. El­ton Jan­tjies, for all of his flare and abil­ity, is not func­tion­ing un­der the cur­rent Bok game style.

He doesn’t kick the ball far enough and in the north­ern hemi­sphere that is im­por­tant. Pol­lard has had lim­ited time off the bench since his re­turn from in­jury, but there is no bet­ter time than now to turn to him.

Rudy Paige

Ross Cronje’s kick­ing dis­play against Ire­land was a dis­as­ter. He wasted so much ball by kick­ing it too far or too short, and if the Boks are go­ing to play that way against France then they can­not back him again.

Paige has had lim­ited op­por­tu­nity in a Spring­bok jersey this year, but he has given a good ac­count of him­self in most of his bench ap­pear­ances.

Lukhanyo Am

Damian de Al­lende is nowhere near the player he once was and, with lim­ited op­tions at in­side cen­tre, Am could be a good fit.

He may have played his rugby at No. 13 in Su­per Rugby, but Am is a No. 12 by trade. The cen­tre pair­ing of De Al­lende and Jesse Kriel showed no cre­ativ­ity on Sat­ur­day, while Am is a player who can make things hap­pen with lit­tle to work with. He must be backed.

Dan du Preez/Duane Ver­meulen

With Pieter­Steph du Toit strug­gling with con­cus­sion, Coet­zee may be forced into a change in his loose trio.

In Du Preez, he has a nat­u­ral No. 8 should he want to move Fran­cois Louw back to the side of the scrum.

Then, there is also the ex­pe­ri­enced Ver­meulen, who is fit and avail­able once more. In this kind of cri­sis, Ver­meulen will be dif­fi­cult to ig­nore. The 31­year­old joined the squad yes­ter­day. — Sport24.

Lukhanyo Am.

Rudy Paige.

Duane Ver­meulen.

Dan du Preez.

PHO­TOS: GALLO

Han­drè Pol­lard.

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