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Hopefully Marcell Coetzee’s absence doesn’t come back to bite Springboks

Springboks No 8 Duane Vermeulen during the World Cup final in 2019. Picture: Issei Kato/Reuters

Springboks No 8 Duane Vermeulen during the World Cup final in 2019. Picture: Issei Kato/Reuters

Published Jun 6, 2021


DURBAN - As expected, the entire 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning squad has been picked for the imminent series against the British and Irish Lions as Bok boss Rassie Erasmus opts for the tried and tested.

However, Erasmus hinted that the Boks may be without talisman No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who limped off the field midway through Friday night’s Rainbow Cup match between the Bulls and the Stormers.

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Erasmus said that the 34-year-old had suffered an ankle injury that “does not look good”.

Incredibly, Erasmus and coach Jacques Nienaber did not pick the Man of the Match in the Bulls’ narrow win, Marcell Coetzee, and his omission could well live to embarrass them.

The only players that are unavailable from the Japan triumph are the retired trio of Tendai Mtawarira, Francois Louw and Schalk Brits, and the injured Warrick Gelant.

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ALSO READ: 2009 Lions tamer Morne Steyn back in Springboks squad

The Springboks will line up against Georgia on successive Fridays on July 2 and 9 before battling it out against the British & Irish Lions in three Tests on 24 and 31 July, and 7 August respectively.

The South Africa “A” team, which will comprise of players from this squad, will also meet the Lions on Wednesday, July 14.

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Apart from Morné Steyn (flyhalf) – who kicked the penalty goal that clinched the series win in 2009 – and Frans Steyn (centre), both of whom were key members of the Springbok team during the 2009 campaign, this year’s extravaganza will have extra significance for Vermeulen (if he recovers), who was a member of the Emerging Springbok team that season.

ALSO READ: Bulls v Stormers reminds you of what you’ve been missing, says Marcell Coetzee

The eight uncapped players are Joseph Dweba (hooker), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (lock), Jasper Wiese (loose forward), Sanele Nohamba (scrumhalf), Wandisile Simelane (centre), Yaw Penxe, Rosko Specman (both wings) and Aphelele Fassi (full-back).

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Erasmus said the selection of the squad followed a detailed process, including several alignment camps both locally and abroad, as well as visits by the Bok coaching staff to the various local franchise teams.

“We have been keeping a close eye on the players’ performances since professional rugby resumed late last season and we followed that up with a series of alignment camps and franchise visits,” said Erasmus.

ALSO READ: Cornal Hendricks v SA Rugby: Jake White hopes common sense will prevails

“We have put together a very talented group of players, and we believe the vast experience in the group will complement the exciting bunch of youngsters.

“Several players have been plying their trade abroad, and that has enabled them to rack up quality game time in top class competitions against world class opposition, many of whom were included in the Lions squad, while the locally-based players have also been able to build up quality game time over a number of competitions.”


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