Strange as it may seem considering the hype beforehand over “emotional Springbok swansongs” in the bronze playoff match at Rugby World Cup 2015, only 1 member of the squad at the tournament, captain Jean de Villiers, has officially confirmed his Test retirement.
Several younger Springboks spoke beforehand of their desire to beat Argentina – a task duly achieved – as a fitting send-off for senior players bidding farewell to the green-and-gold cause.
Almost 2 weeks on from the end of the Rugby World Cup, however, it is still only the luckless Jean de Villiers, injured again in just the 2nd Rugby World Cup match against Samoa, who has definitely bowed out after 109 appearances since 2002.
Perhaps influenced by the state of flux surrounding embattled coach Heyneke Meyer, the likes of Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana intriguingly haven’t yet pulled the plug publicly on their illustrious Springbok careers.
The majority of “older” Springboks who took part in their hot-and-cold Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign are now exclusively foreign-based and there have been some pleas back home for only locally-stationed players to be chosen for South Africa henceforth – a tricky matter considering the ever-shrinking strength of the Rand against other currencies, which hardly helps keeps the best players rooted here.
It is said that time is a great healer, but in Heyneke Meyer’s case it will also be a great revealer.
The Springbok coach has decided to delay his team announcement by 7 hours on Wednesday as he needs more time to resolve the all-important matter of who will wear the captain’s armband in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Pool B pace-setters Scotland at St James’ Park, Newcastle.
Instead of an 11:00 SA Time (10:00 UK Time) announcement, Meyer will now name his matchday-23 at 19:00 SA Time (18:00 UK Time) on Wednesday evening.
At the heart of the delay is a plethora of injuries which have a direct bearing on the captaincy appointment. Victor Matfield is the obvious choice to replace the injured Jean de Villiers as the captain at world rugby’s showpiece, but the 38-year-old lock has a hamstring strain which he suffered in the 2nd half against Samoa last weekend.
As a result of the lengthy injury list, the Springboks forfeited Monday’s training session as several players were nursing an assortment of niggles. Matfield will have to prove his fitness at Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s training before the Springboks’ medical staff make a call on his availability.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Tuesday applauded the work done by the national team’s medical, strength and conditioning staff to get the squad fit and ready for the Rugby World Cup.
Each member of the 31-man squad took part in most of the field sessions on Monday and Tuesday in Durban, including Duane Vermeulen, Jean de Villiers, Jannie du Plessis, Fourie du Preez and Francois Louw.
The training camp in Durban concludes on Wednesday and the players and management will get together again in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. The squad departs for England on Friday 11 September.
“We’re confident that all of the players will be fit to be considered for selection for our opening match against Japan in Brighton on 19 September,” said Meyer.
The Springboks will be without tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and flanker Francois Louw when they face Argentina’s Los Pumas in Durban next Saturday, but the Springboks could have Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts back while at this stage their medical team is optimistic of delivering a fully fit squad to the selectors for the Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Tuesday.
De Villiers, Du Preez and Alberts are 3 of 7 players whose fitness will be assessed on Monday as they complete the final phase of rehabilitation while players such as Duane Vermeulen and Coenie Oosthuizen are progressing well with their rehabilitation.
Although Du Plessis (knee) and Louw (rotator cuff), along with Victor Matfield and JP Pietersen (both hamstring injuries) will miss the Tests against the Pumas, none of these injuries will put their Rugby World Cup participation at risk. Saturday’s other injury victims, Vincent Koch and Warren Whiteley (rib cartilages) should be fit and available for selection next weekend.
Jan Serfontein (hip and knee), Marcell Coetzee (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) and Steven Kitshoff (knee) will also be assessed on Monday with a view to being available to selection against the Pumas.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen said he is feeling positive after undergoing surgery on his neck in Durban on Wednesday.
Vermeulen, the South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, will take a few days off to recuperate before starting with his rehabilitation process.
“I’m feeling good and positive and can’t wait to start my rehabilitation,” said Vermeulen.
“All the staff at the hospital made things so easy for me and I would really like to thank them for their effort – I really was in great hands.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the national side’s medical team will work tirelessly to get Vermeulen ready to be considered for Rugby World Cup selection.
“Duane is mentally very tough and he is a warrior who has always bled for his country and I’m expecting exactly the same attitude from him towards his rehabilitation,” said Meyer.
Springbok No 8 and South Africa’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen, is in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup following a diagnosis that he will require surgery on a neck injury.
The 29-year-old Vermeulen, who was also the SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and the Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, consulted a specialist in Durban on the recommendation of the Springbok medical team.
The need for surgery was identified to give him the best possible chance to recover in time for the global rugby showpiece in England in September and October. The operation is scheduled for Wednesday.
Two injured players in the Springbok training squad, Frans Steyn and Pieter-Steph du Toit, have been temporarily released from the squad to continue their rehabilitation in Durban for the next few weeks.
Neither of them are expected to be fit for the Springboks’ 1st 2 matches of the season, next Saturday against the World XV in Cape Town and a week later against Australia in Brisbane. Steyn has a pectoral muscle tear, while Du Toit is recovering from a knee injury.
According to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer the decision to send Steyn and Du Toit home was taken with the best interests of the players in mind.
“We’ve discussed the way forward with the players, and all of us agreed that the best way forward at this stage is for them to get full-time rehabilitation at their home province, while our own medical team will keep very close tabs on their progress,” said Meyer.
“Both of them are still firmly in our plans going forward for the season and I really hope they can get back onto the field sooner rather than later. I’m confident the individual attention they will receive in Durban will be a massive benefit to them in the long run.
“We won’t be taking Frans or Pieter-Steph with us to Australia and will reassess their situation when we return from Brisbane.”
With the International Test window just around the corner (11 July), the Rugby news in South Africa is being dominated by Springbok preparations for what lies ahead in 2015… The World XV game, the abbreviated Rugby Championship and 1 further match against Los Pumas and of course the Rugby World Cup from 18 September to 31 October 2015.
Of course, it could also be argued that we do not have anything else to talk about, because South African sides have all been done and dusted with Super Rugby for a couple of weeks already, whilst 2 New Zealand sides are still contesting it… on their ownsome lonesome!
Maybe it is a blessing in disguise though, for overall Springbok preparations, as they now have much more time to get their ducks in a row for the international scene, and to re-introduce the injured and rehabilitating players…
BUT, and it’s a big BUT… the injury list seems almost as long as the list of fighting fit candidates and that is a big concern.
In this article, we focus on what Heyneke Meyer says and feels about his chosen Springbok squad, and we have a good look at the fitness and injury update from the Springbok camp.
DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen met with Director of Rugby Gert Smal on Monday morning, to sort out the events that transpired in France last week.
Vermeulen visited French Top 14 club Toulon late last week and was unveiled to the local media as their new signing – a move which certainly caught Western Province Rugby by surprise.
DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen has not improved significantly enough to feature in the 1st Round of Super Rugby playoffs.
The Stormers host the Brumbies at DHL Newlands on Saturday and the burly Springbok will not be considered.
Should the Stormers beat the Brumbies at Newlands, they would travel to Sydney to face the Waratahs in the semifinals.
Vermeulen, who has missed the Stormers’ last 2 games with a bulging neck disc that at one stage threatened his World Cup prospects, is making “good progress” on the road to recovery.
However, coach Allister Coetzee said that the improvement is “not enough” for this week.
“Hopefully, going forward, there is still an opportunity for him,” Coetzee told a media scrum at the team’s training base.
DHL Stormers No 8 and captain Duane Vermeulen consulted a neurosurgeon on Monday, after he was withdrawn from the past weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Lions with a severe neck spasm.
Vermeulen suffered an intense spasm in his neck after last Friday’s captain’s run, with an MRI showing a bulging disc at a C5 level.
However, the DHL Stormers and Springbok star consulted a neurosurgeon on Monday and the prognosis was positive ahead of the upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs, with the DHL Stormers set to host either a quarter- or semifinal in the coming weeks.
Duane Vermeulen’s reported move to France appears all the more likely after the Springbok and Stormers No 8 rejected a contract offer from the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
Vermeulen would have been the highest earning Springbok had he accepted SARU’s offer.
His decision to reject the offer from SARU adds fire to reports earlier this year that linked him with a move to French club Toulon.
DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has confirmed that he will be selecting both Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger for Saturday’s important Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Melbourne Rebels at Newlands.
Both players are due for varying amounts of rest as per the rest agreement struck between the South African Rugby Union and franchise chief executives at the start of the year, and it was assumed that this might be a game where Coetzee would do it. Vermeulen has already rested 3 games and is due to sit out 1 more, while Burger has 2 stipulated rest games and he hasn’t been rested yet.
“Obviously it means that Schalk will have to sit out 2 of the 3 games that will come after this, and Duane will have to sit out 1, but we have decided that against the Rebels we want the strongest possible team,” said Coetzee.
“There is sometimes a bit of rust and hang-over after a bye, and we need to counter that, and to do that I have decided that we should have all hands on deck for this game so that we can avoid any potential pitfalls. There were quite a few problem areas that we identified before the break and which we have spoken about and are working on, and we need to build on the win against the Brumbies by beating the Rebels.”
The Stormers now have the edge in the race for South African conference honours as the Vodacom Bulls’ loss to the Blues in their 1st tour game leaves them only 1 Log point ahead of the Cape side after the same number of matches, but with the Stormers looking forward to a run of 3 successive home games.
The DHL Stormers are up against the Toyota Cheetahs on the weekend, after narrowly beating the Vodacom Bulls this past weekend. They will be feeling the pinch of a bad run of lineout steals against them by the Bulls, but they have laid down a serious marker in beating the Bulls and again going Top of the South African Confernce, from where they have an excellent chance of winning the Conference.
They want to show serious intent on attack against the Cheetahs and score some tries, a thing which has been worryingly few and far between.
A number of their key players have stepped up nicely in 2015, none more so probably than Damian de Allende, who is being touted as the logical Springbok inside centre option at the Rugby World Cup, should Jean de Villiers not recover properly in time for the big showpiece. Duane Vermeulen is another key Stormers player and captain, and it appears that he is somewhat frustrated by the enforced Springbok rest schedule, agreed to between SARU, Springbok Management and the South African Super Rugby franchises.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen returns to lead the DHL Stormers in Saturday’s tantalising derby clash against the Vodacom Bulls, at DHL Newlands, Cape Town.
Vermeulen missed the final 2 weeks of the Stormers’ Super Rugby tour as part of the SA franchises’ rest agreement with SA Rugby, but his return marks 1 of 4 changes to the starting line-up that defeated the Western Force in Perth last Saturday.
2 Of the 4 changes are injury enforced, with Johnny Kotze and Pat Howard replacing the injured wing duo of Kobus van Wyk (knee – 6 weeks) and Dillyn Leyds (shoulder – 1 week), respectively. Howard will make his Super Rugby debut, with Kotze set to win his 6th cap.
Nizaam Carr moves to the bench to make way for Vermeulen’s expected return to action, whilst the 4th and final change sees Nic Groom take over at scrumhalf from Louis Schreuder, who, like Carr, reverts to the bench.
Joining Carr and Schreuder amongst the replacements is prop Oli Kebble, with Alistair Vermaak and Sikhumbuzo Notshe out of the matchday 23 and back to doing duty for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team this weekend.
The DHL Stormers are keeping their build-up to Saturday’s massive Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Vodacom Bulls under wraps, with no open training sessions or press conferences scheduled until the team announcement on Thursday, but there shouldn’t be any secret to what the biggest selection dilemma will be this week.
To put it simply, coach Allister Coetzee needs to find a way to fit 4 inform Springbok loose-forwards into a winning loose trio. Up until the match against the Western Force, not all the loose-forwards were firing, as Nizaam Carr wasn’t repeating the excellent form that earned him a national call-up last year.
However, against the Western Force the No 8 hit his straps and regained his old confidence, delivering a busy and energetic performance that should have taken him close to the man of the match award. The Stormers were unlucky not to score a try off one particularly impressive run from Carr.
The problem for Coetzee, if you could call it that, is that skipper Duane Vermeulen has now completed his rest period that started when he travelled home at the halfway point of the 4 match overseas tour, meaning that he effectively missed 3 games in all as he was also rested for the 1st. Vermeulen should return to the back of the scrum for the Newlands clash, which will mean that Carr will have to be accommodated elsewhere.
Centre Juan de Jongh has recovered from an ankle injury and will lead the DHL Stormers in their 3rd Vodacom Super Rugby tour match of 2015 – against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
De Jongh was an 11th hour withdrawal from the team last weekend, but he is fit to take his place in the No 13 shirt this week and assume the leadership responsibilities in the absence of Duane Vermeulen, who is back in South Africa as part of the rest agreement with SA Rugby.
Influential DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen will return to Cape Town for a further 2-week rest period.
The hard-working No 8 has been in outstanding form for the DHL Stormers in 2015, but he will head home from Sydney on Sunday as part of the agreed SA Rugby rest period, which affects the top Springboks in this, a Rugby World Cup season.
“It’s a big one for us… it was a big decision to make,” explained DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
“However, it is something we discussed and have been planning since the start of the season,” he added, “the intention was always for Duane to spend the 1st 2 weeks on tour and then to head home and be ready for the final part of our season.
“We will of course miss him against the Waratahs and the Force but when we get home his rest period will be over and we will have him back in tow for a crucial part of the season.”
Duane Vermeulen will assume the DHL Stormers captaincy, as well as the No 8 jersey, for Friday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the top of the table – and unbeaten – Hurricanes team in Wellington (kick-off 08:35 SA Time).
The influential No 8 missed last week’s 21 / 39 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin as part of the SA franchises’ rest agreement with SA Rugby, but he returns this week in 1 of 2 changes to the DHL Stormers 15.
The 2nd change, also up front, sees fellow Springbok hardman Eben Etzebeth take over the No 4 jersey from Jean Kleyn, the latter dropping out of the matchday squad altogether – along with Nizaam Carr, who did duty at No 8 last week.
On the bench, meanwhile, lock Ruan Botha will take over the No 19 jersey vacated by Etzebeth in an otherwise unchanged replacements’ unit.
Regular captain and No 8 Duane Vermeulen is the only member of the DHL Stormers touring squad that will not be available for selection for Saturday’s opening game of the 4 day trip against the Highlanders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has reported to the Cape rugby media via telephone conference hook-up that the squad has settled down well on the South Island in New Zealand – they are actually in the resort town of Queenstown currently – and that every player in the 27 man squad is fully fit and ready to play.
That means that Louis Schreuder, who was concussed against the Chiefs in the last match, has passed his cognitive tests, while big lock Eben Etzebeth and the inform blindside flank Michael Rhodes have both recovered from the injuries that have kept them out of the last few Stormers games.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Duane Vermeulen should be the Springbok captain at this year’s Rugby World Cup if Jean de Villiers fails to recover in time.
De Villiers, the current Springbok leader, is in a race against time to be fit for the 18 September to 31 October event.
De Villiers suffered an horrific knee injury in South Africa’s final Test of last year – against Wales in Cardiff – and it remains uncertain if he’ll recover sufficiently for the tournament in England and Wales.
“Duane should lead the Springboks at the World Cup if Jean de Villiers is not ready,” Mallett said.
If there was ever a good time for Stormers coach Allister Coetzee to rest captain Duane Vermeulen it is now.
The SA Player of the Year was always going to have to miss the 1st game of the Stormers tour against the Highlanders, having played 5 straight games at the start of the season, but having 4 wins under the belt and plenty of loose forward depth at his disposal does make it easier for Coetzee to give him the time off.
The plan was always to give Vermeulen an extended break with the BYE this week followed by a week off in Dunedin, as part of SARU’s request that top Springboks be given regular games off to manage their workload this season ahead of the World Cup.
Coetzee admitted that it may be tougher to rest Vermeulen when there is more pressure on later in the season, but for now he is happy to stick to the plan.
Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen will not play in the team’s next Super Rugby match, against the Highlanders in Dunedin on 28 March.
Vermeulen played his 5th consecutive match for the Stormers when they hosted the Chiefs at Newlands this past weekend.
According an agreement between the SA Rugby Union and the Super Rugby franchises, key Springboks will not be allowed to play more than 5 games on the trot in this year’s competition, in order to keep them fresh for the Rugby World Cup later in the year.
This means centre Juan de Jongh will take over the captaincy for the game against the Highlanders, with Schalk Burger likely to be included in the starting team.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen was the star of the annual South African Rugby Union Player of the Year Awards when he walked off with 3 awards, including the main award of the season.
Vermeulen was named SARU Rugby Player of the Year after an extensive voting process, which included the country’s rugby media and the public through SARU’s online and social media platforms.
The 28-year-old Vermeulen, who will captain the DHL Stormers this year, also won the coveted SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year Awards for 2014.
“Duane has been outstanding in 2014 and these awards are just reward for the excellent form he showed last year, as one of the Springboks’ key performers and for the DHL Stormers,” said SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins.
Hot on Vermeulen’s heels, with two awards, was young Springbok flyhalf and Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard.
Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis as well as Duane Vermeulen will further their careers in France after this year’s Rugby World Cup, respected French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique has revealed.
According to the newspaper, the official announcement regarding Vermeulen will only be made in July.
The DHL Stormers have finished their training camp in Hermanus and have also appointed their leadership for the season.
We also bring news on Nizaam Carr, who did not take part in the training camp but in stead was hospitalised due to a viral infection.
By now, the rumours of Duane Vermeulen’s departure overseas have also been laid to rest, we discuss it below.
Seabelo Senatla, the speedster, will only join the Stormers in a couple of months due to his dual committments with the South African Sevens side, more hereunder.
As one of three players to have played in all 12 of South Africa’s Test matches in 2014 it is safe to say No.8 Duane Vermeulen is now an integral part of Heyneke Meyer’s plans for the World Cup.
A stellar year that included a man-of-the-match performance in October’s win over the All Blacks, and culminated in his nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year.
The next goal for Vermeulen will be impressing on the World stage in his first ever World Cup tournament after only making his debut in the Rugby Championship in 2012 at the age of 26.
“It wasn’t always a dream to play for the Springboks – that developed later on, and now I want to play in a World Cup. Hopefully I can stay in the team,” he said,” Vermeulen said.
Brodie Retallick becomes the fourth New Zealander to be named World Rugby Player of the Year, while the All Blacks and Steve Hansen also win awards.
New Zealand second row Brodie Retallick has been named the World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 by an independent panel, the fourth player from his country to win the prestigious award.The 23-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic year in the middle of the All Blacks’ pack and follows in the footsteps of teammates Kieran Read (2013), Dan Carter (2005 and 2012) and Richie McCaw (2006, 2009 and 2010).
He edged out Willie le Roux (South Africa), Julian Savea (New Zealand), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) and Duane Vermeulen (South Africa) for the award in a closely fought contest during a year of spectacular performances on the international stage.
The accolade completes a hat-trick of awards for New Zealand, as the All Blacks were named World Rugby Team of the Year 2014 for the eighth time and Steve Hansen the World Rugby Coach of the Year 2014 for the third year in succession.
Errr… wrong picture… I did not say Bath Plug, I said Bath Rugby! OK, here’s the right one!
Gmpfff, still looks somewhat the same!
Anyway… Bath head coach Mike Ford has said the club are not in the market for Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen.
Earlier in the week there was speculation that Bath were on the hunt for Vermeulen to be one of their marquee players alongside Wallaby Will Genia.
“It was news to us when it was mentioned to us earlier today,” Ford said on Tuesday.
English club Bath are reportedly setting their sights on signing Springbok and Stormers No 8 Duane Vermeulen after next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The 28-year-old has been instrumental for the Springboks this season and was recently also shortlisted as an IRB World Rugby Player of the year nominee.
According to the Express.co.uk website, Bath are lining up Vermeulen as a second marquee player alongside Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia.
Springbok fullback Willie le Roux and No 8 Duane Vermeulen on Wednesday were named among five candidates for the IRB World Rugby Player of the year.
The other nominees were Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick and wing Julian Savea. The winner will be revealed at his team’s final match of the season.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen and the Commonwealth Games gold medal winning Springbok Sevens team have been nominated for South African Sports Awards, the Department of Sport and Recreation South African (SRSA) announced on Wednesday.
Vermeulen has been nominated in the category of Sports Star of the Year. He will be up against Ernst van Dyk (wheelchair marathon athlete), Chad le Clos (swimming), Portia Modise (soccer), Khotso Mokoena (track & field) and AB de Villiers (cricket).
It is unlikely that the Springboks will rest a few key forwards for their year-end tour to Europe.
According to reports on Sunday, there will be no respite for stalwarts like Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen as Boks aim to pick their best possible team for the tour.
The Boks play four Tests back-to-back against Ireland (Dublin, 8 November), England (London, 15 November), Italy (Padova, 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff, 29 November).
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen will be given as much time as possible to recover from injury while Bismarck du Plessis will start Saturday’s final round Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
This match will be Springbok captain Jean de Villiers’ 50th appearance in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, the most by any South African.
Vermeulen is recovering from a rib cartilage injury and if he doesn’t recover in time to face New Zealand, Schalk Burger will start in the No 8 jersey with Warren Whiteley coming onto the bench.