Just two weeks after saying it wouldn’t be a good idea to pick experienced loose forward Duane Vermeulen for the Springboks’ year-end tour of Europe, coach Allister Coetzee recalled the Toulon-based No 8 to the squad on Monday.
Vermeulen, who has played in France for three years, comes into the squad for prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who returned home after damaging his anterior and posterior knee ligaments in the Boks’ 38-3 defeat to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Just before the Boks’ departure to the UK 10 days ago, the Bok boss said picking Vermeulen was not the way to go because he would not be at the same level of fitness as his Boks after returning from injury recently, and because he played in a slower-paced competition compared to the style of rugby the Boks wanted to employ.
Since regular captain Warren Whiteley’s season-ending injury in June, Coetzee has used Jean-Luc du Preez, Uzair Cassiem and Francois Louw at No 8.
Vermeulen, who has played 37 Tests for the Boks, is almost certain to move straight into the starting team for Saturday’s Test against France, taking over from Louw at No 8, with the latter sure to return to the openside role.
And with Pieter-Steph du Toit ruled out of this weekend’s match because of concussion, Siya Kolisi is guaranteed a spot at blindside flank again.
The change in the loose trio is not likely to be the only area where Coetzee and his management team tinkle this week. Saturday’s Test against France kicks off at 9.45pm.
The squad for that match will be named on Thursday afternoon.