Province prop Alistair Vermaak could be out for the rest of the eason
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CAPE TOWN – Western Province’s woes didn’t end on the field in their 28-30 Currie Cup defeat to Griquas at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.
Head coach John Dobson confirmed after the match that experienced loosehead prop Alistair Vermaak could miss the rest of the season after sustaining a season-ending injury against Griquas.
Province's front-row stocks will be a big concern as they now shift their focus to their match against the British & Irish Lions next Wednesday.
With Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Scarra Ntubeni with the Springboks, WP won’t be going into that match with a wealth of experience in the front row.
Tighthead Sazi Sandi replaced Neethling Fouche in the starting line-up for their latest run-out, but left the field with a concussion, while Vermaak went off an achilles tear.
Prior to his current injury Vermaak, 32, made his comeback from a career-threatening neck injury late last year, and now he seems set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
“I also thought it was his neck, but it is actually his achilles [tendon], which has unfortunately ruptured. That’s a long-term injury, so it is a hell of a blow for us,” Dobson said.
“As you saw when Sazi went off, we were given a tough time in the scrums. Our options there are Leon Lyons and Kwenzo Blose. Both are really good young props, but we are going to have to revisit our approach to scrums.
“We have been keeping the same approach through all the competitions, no matter who the personnel are. Now you take away Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Neethling Fouche, Ali Vermaak, Sazi Sandi, Bongi and Scarra. We are going to have to give some youngsters game time and maybe look at rebuilding there because we cannot afford to give away three penalties like we did.
“Guys like Leon need to be given an opportunity now. If we get one more [injury], well, we still have Deon Bleuler, who is at Maties. You don’t want to bring somebody in from the outside who isn’t better than the youngster you have and blocking his path. We were keen to give Leon some game time at some stage.”
After Province's last-minute defeat, Dobson lamented their ill discipline and high error rate.
"It was a frustrating game, it was a poor game," he said. "Our discipline was terrible and it was a helluva frustrating week. It’s going to sound like an excuse when you lose at home to Griquas, but the players coached themselves to a certain degree and it was good for their growth, but it was a very, very poor performance.
"It was a stop-start game and I think we got stuck into that contestable pattern, which we didn't execute well. We had got used to having ball in play in the high 30s. If you concede 17 penalties you’re not going to win many games…that many penalties is rugby suicide to a degree. We didn’t defend very well either.”