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Big boost for the Springboks as Vermeulen makes return from injury

The 35-year-old number eight had ankle surgery just seven weeks ago.

Vermeulen is a key figure for the Springboks.
Vermeulen is a key figure for the Springboks.

THE SPRINGBOKS HAVE confirmed a huge boost ahead of the third Test against the Lions next weekend with the return of Duane Vermeulen to their squad.

The talismanic World Cup-winning number eight has missed the opening two Tests after undergoing ankle surgery just seven weeks ago but he has re-joined the Springboks at their base in Cape Town today.

35-year-old Vermeulen will undergo medical tests to determine his match readiness but it seems likely that he will feature in next weekend’s deciding Test.

54-times capped Vermeulen has been a key man for the Springboks in recent years, vice-captaining the team and acting as a key defensive leader, heavy ball-carrier, and generally calming influence.

He has been missed at number eight over the last two weekends, with Kwagga Smith and Jasper Wiese starting a Test each at the back of the scrum.

It remains to be seen how fit Vermeulen is but the Boks says his “steady progress proved to be sufficient” for them to bring him back into the squad.

“Duane will join us on Sunday and will be medically assessed as soon as possible,” said Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber.

“We will never risk a player who is not 100% fit but he brings experience to the squad and it will be great to have him with us.”

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An update from SA Rugby added that there will be more clarity on back row Pieter-Steph du Toit’s shoulder injury tomorrow.

The 2019 World Rugby player of the year was injured in a tackle by Duhan van der Merwe during the first half of yesterday’s 27-9 win over the Lions. Du Toit attempted to play on but had to be replaced by Smith in the 21st minute.

The Boks will hope to have key man du Toit available to potentially start in their World Cup-winning back row with Vermeulen and captain Siya Kolisi.

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Murray Kinsella

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