CAPE TOWN - Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber says Duane Vermeulen’s availability for the British & Irish Lions Series all depends on how he recovers following surgery.
The burly No 8 injured his ankle as he carried the ball en route to the try line and was tackled by fellow Bok Pieter-Steph du Toit during the table-topping Bulls’ PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA match against the Stormers. He subsequently underwent surgery on Wednesday, with the 34-year-old sharing on social media that the procedure was a success.
During a virtual media engagement on Wednesday, Nienaber went on to explain that there’s no certainty on how long it could take the World Cup-winner to be ready, adding that Bok centre Jesse Kriel underwent a similar op ahead of their victorious World Cup campaign in Japan.
With the first Test against the Lions taking place on July 24, Vermeulen has less than seven weeks to recover.
“Duane is being operated on today,” Nienaber said. “The feedback that I’ve got is that…if the surgery and rehab goes well, it’s something that you can come back from anywhere between five and 16 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. The surgeon will probably know that once he’s opened it up and had a good look inside.
“Certain players have come back very quickly – Jesse (Kriel) had a similar operation in just before the World Cup in 2019 and he was quickly. But it depends on the severity, it might be a long-term injury.”
Nienaber went on to confirm that they have no plans to call on a replacement at this stage.
“We had a discussion about that (calling up a precautionary player to replace Duane), but we’re not going to get somebody in for him now."