CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 14: Daniel Vermeulen of the Stormers talks to his players during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Stormers at AMI Stadium on April 14, 2012 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

The fitness of the Stormers' strong man Duane Vermeulen is in question ahead of the Super Rugby semifinal against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.

Vermeulen is a massive asset in the Stormers' pack, which will be up against the most powerful eight-man combination in this year's Super Rugby competition.

A few weeks ago, the Sharks forwards, led by their all-Springbok front row of Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Jannie du Plessis, completely outplayed the Stormers in the first half of their match in Durban, although the Stormers recovered well after the halftime break.

However, the Stormers were unable to stave off a 25-20 defeat.

“It's still uncertain that Duane will play”, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said.

“We'll continue to test him and make a (selection) decision on Wednesday. If he does play he won't manage 80 minutes. If he does not make it we'll go with Deon Fourie at No 8 again.”

Coetzee said Saturday's occasion was about handling pressure and playing to the team's strengths.

“The semifinal is a knock-out round and it comes with pressure,” Coetzee said.

“It's about how well you cope and how you're able to play the game, which you want to play.

“We saw what happened to the Bulls because they did not play to their strength. They have a very strong kicking game, but they didn't impose it on their match against the Crusaders.

“It's important to execute well, as well as start well. This season we have started well more often than not.

“This team has implemented a plan and it has got us to where we are. I just hope we can continue in that vein because there's nothing to change about the way we play.

“We know that a team is only as good as their last game and after their superb performance in Brisbane against the Reds, the Sharks showed that they will be a good side at Newlands.”

“But this is what we've been playing for, reaching the semifinals and play in front of our home crowd.”

“We understand the expectation of the fans and we'll embrace the pressure. It's going to be an out-and-out physical battle like it is with all South African derbies.”

The Sharks also pose a massive threat at the breakdowns where the likes of Bismarck du Plessis, Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee, and Ryan Kankowski have been stand-out performers.” – Sapa