BREAKING NEWS: Duane, Damian out of Springbok opener


French-based loose forward Duane Vermeulen, as well as Stormers centre Damian de Allende have been ruled out of the Springboks’ first Test of the year against France at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Bok coach Allister Coetzee announced at a press conference on Monday morning that Vermeulen won’t feature against the Tricolores as he played on Sunday night for his club Toulon in the French Top 14 final against Clermont in Paris.

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Jan Serfontein is set to start for the Springboks against France. Photo: Nic Bothma, EPALionel Mapoe is battling with a hamstring strain. Photo: BackpagePixDamian de Allende was unable to recover from a thigh contusion. Photo: BackpagePixJesse Kriel can play at centre, but his position is fullback. Photo: BackpagePix

Toulon lost the championship decider 22-16, with captain Vermeulen involved in the decisive moment as his team pushed for the winning try.

The skipper took the ball into contact, but held on too long as Clermont contested possession on the ground, and referee Romain Poite penalised Vermeulen with the clock past the 80-minute mark.

But with the former Stormers stalwart not attending the training camp in Plettenberg Bay last week, Coetzee would have run the rule over his loose-trio options and made a decision as to who will partner captain and No 8 Warren Whiteley.

Stormers skipper Siya Kolisi is a strong contender for the openside flank position, while Cheetahs flank Oupa Mohoje and Sharks hard man Jean-Luc du Preez are vying for the No 7 jersey. Jaco Kriel is also in the mix, but was injured for five weeks and made his comeback off the bench for the Lions in the last Super Rugby round.

De Allende has been battling with a thigh contusion picked up while playing for the Stormers against the Sharks in Durban, and he won’t recover in time.

Frans Steyn last played for the Springboks in 2012. Photo: Nic Bothma, EPA

SA Rugby stated that outside centre Lionel Mapoe is also a doubt for Saturday, having sustained a minor hamstring strain during last week’s training camp in Plettenberg Bay.

That represents a mini-crisis in the midfield, as Sharks star Lukhanyo Am was already ruled out before the last camp started due to a broken cheekbone he suffered against the Stormers in the final round of Super Rugby before the international window.

The remaining specialist centres in the squad are Frans Steyn and Jan Serfontein, and while Steyn can play in a number of positions, he is likely to line up in the No 12 jersey in Pretoria on Saturday.

Another option at outside centre is Jesse Kriel, although his best position is fullback.

IOL Sport

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