Ver­meulen red-card es­cape a ‘sur­prise’

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

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.”

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