Vermeulen red-card escape a ‘surprise’
Warren Gatland believes South Africa’s Duane Vermeulen is lucky to be playing in tomorrow’s World Cup semi-final after an off-the-ball incident during the quarter-final against Japan.
The Wales head coach yesterday referenced match action not widely spotted at the time – a high tackle, off the ball, in the 11th minute, in which No8 Vermeulen appeared to take diminutive winger Kenki Fukuoka out with an arm across the throat.
Gatland brought up the incident in his team announcement press conference when answering a question about the physicality of the Springboks and how Wales needed to match it.
“We talk about the physicality that other teams bring against us,” he said. “But we have got to not just match that, but bring our own physicality in terms of a World Cup semi-final. And that’s important when you play a team like South Africa. They are definitely physical.
“Against Japan, I was surprised that [Duane] Vermeulen wasn’t red-carded during the game or cited afterwards, having looked at that incident. But we have to match the physicality that South Africa is going to bring.”
South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard, meanwhile, has warned Wales that the Springboks will look to dominate them at the set-piece and the maul.
“We’ve got that threat [in the attacking backs] loaded, but if your boys are mauling and handling the set-piece like our boys are at the moment, you are not going to stop. You are not going to fix something that’s not broken, or change anything,” he said.
“It’s no secret, the set-piece battle is coming on Sunday.”