South Africa would be weakened by the loss of Duane Vermeulen, says Thinus Delport
But Delport is confident heading into All Blacks clash
Last Updated: 03/10/14 12:44pm
Duane Vermeulen’s absence from South Africa’s Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand would be a “massive blow”, according to ex-Springbok Thinus Delport.
The number eight has been named in South Africa’s squad for the Johannesburg clash but is nursing a rib cartilage injury and is facing a race against time to play.
Burger is a great player and has a great work rate but he does not quite bring the same physicality that Vermeulen brings.
Schalk Burger is on standby but Delport believes that Vermeulen can’t be easily replaced.
“He has been the stand-out player for the Boks all through this Championship campaign,” Delport said.
“Duane Vermeulen is a massive concern for South Africa and the Springbok management will do all that they can to get him fit for this game.
“Burger is a great player and has a great work rate but he does not quite bring the same physicality as Vermeulen.
“South Africa have lost Willem Alberts and Francois Louw and if Vermeulen does not play then that will be a massive blow.”
Delport claims that Vermeulen’s outstanding contributions inspired impressive Springbok performances in last week’s victory over Australia and the narrow loss to New Zealand.
“I think Heyneke Meyer has picked Bismarck Du Plessis to start ahead of Adriaan Strauss because of his physicality and, if Vermeulen is out, we are really going to need all of Du Plessis’ physicality. That is the area where we put New Zealand under all sorts of pressure in that 14-10 loss in Wellington – Vermeulen, Louw and Marcell Coetzee really slowed down the All Blacks’ ball and put them on the back foot.
“All credit to the Springbok bench who came on against Australia and really lifted the pace. The Boks wore them down in the first 60 minutes and then the likes of Schalk Burger and Patrick Lambie came on and the Wallabies could not stick with the intensity.
“However, it was players like Duane Vermeulen with his ball steals, big hits and hard carries that tired the legs of the opposition.”
Delport remains confident that, with or without Vermeulen, South Africa can provide a stern test at Ellis Park for a New Zealand side that wrapped up their third consecutive Rugby Championship last week.
“I am very positive, apart from Vermeulen, and I am confident that South Africa can really put the pressure on New Zealand. Like they did in Wellington, South Africa need to cut out the mistakes and really keep their discipline, which was outstanding in Wellington. Last time out we had Louw and Coetzee who really dominated that breakdown area, this time we only have Coetzee so Bismarck is really going to have to put in a lot of work there.
“This is still quite a settled side though and I think South Africa have a bit of momentum going – they picked up after that Wallabies loss and played well against New Zealand and then got back to winning ways last weekend.
“South Africa have retained their strong set-piece but have added elements to their game with Handre Pollard at No.10 and Willie Le Roux really asserting himself at fullback and getting the ball out wide and into space. They have shown that they can play with ball in hand but it’s about making the right decisions at the right time.
“South Africa’s conditioning is looking good and they look like they can really maintain that intensity for a lot longer - something that they could not do last year - and I am really confident that we can really challenge the All Blacks.”
South Africa host New Zealand in the Rugby Championship on Saturday at 3.45pm on Sky Sports 2 HD.