Duane Vermeulen not yet ready to play, says Jacques Nienaber
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CAPE TOWN – Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says Duane Vermeulen is in the process of returning to play but won’t feature in the Series-decider against the British & Irish Lions on Saturday.
Nienaber on Tuesday named three changes to the starting line-up for the third Test, with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk missing out due to injury and Franco Mostert moving from lock to blindside flank in a positional switch.
Du Toit took a knock to the shoulder in the second Test last weekend, while De Klerk has been ruled out due to a muscle strain in his leg. He has been replaced at scrumhalf by Cobus Reinach.
The Boks have gone with a five-three split, with Morne Steyn (flyhalf) joining Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and Damian Willemse (utility back) among the replacements.
Vermeulen joined the Bok squad on Sunday after undergoing rehabilitation on the ankle injury he sustained while in Rainbow Cup duty with the Bulls.
“Duane is in the process of returning to play. The first phase is return to training and he did that. The guy who did his rehab did a wonderful job. He is now in the return-to-play process,” Nienaber said.
“We just got him into the mix. He did part of our training on Monday and we will not play him if he is not ready. He has got to be confident. He hasn’t been in the environment for quite a while so we also have to get him up to speed with how we do things. He has to be fully medically for and conditioned.
“We have the Rugby Championship after the British & Irish Lions and there will be strict protocols on getting players in in terms of Covid. So, we always try and get players in as quickly as possible.”
Teams for the third Test
Springboks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Damian Willemse
British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Captain), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Elliot Daly