CAPE TOWN - Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen has been ruled out of the entire three-Test series against France.
Toulon captain Vermeulen, who was already sidelined for the tour opener at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, was assessed by the Springbok team doctor Konrad von Hagen on Tuesday after arriving late in camp.
The big No 8 played in the French Top 14 final for Toulon against Clermont at the Stade de France in Parison Sunday night, which his team lost 22-16.
He would’ve been a doubtful starter in Pretoria anyway due to his late arrival, but Bok coach Allister Coetzee was hopeful that his former Stormers skipper would be able to turn out at Kings Park and Ellis Park over the following two weekends.
But SA Rugby announced on their Twitter page on Tuesday afternoon that Vermeulen has been referred to a “shoulder specialist to determine whether surgery is needed”.
Vermeulen was earmarked for the No 7 jersey once he was passed fit, with new captain Warren Whiteley a sure starter at the back of the scrum.
Now Coetzee will have to make a call between the likes of Oupa Mohoje, Jean-Luc du Preez and Siya Kolisi at blindside flank, although the latter is believed to be in line to run out in the No 6 at Loftus.
Both Mohoje and Du Preez have been in good form for the Cheetahs and Sharks respectively in Super Rugby, with the former perhaps having the edge due to his superior experience with 15 Test caps.
“He is a world-class forward, and a fantastic asset to have in your side. Team selection is the task of coach Allister (Coetzee), but what I can tell you is that we have some brilliant loose forwards in our squad, and the selections will be made according to what is needed for the coming challenge,” forwards coach Johann van Graan said in a statement.
Coetzee will name his team on Thursday.