South Africa's Duane Vermeulen is a doubt for the Rugby World Cup
Last Updated: 06/07/15 11:12am
South Africa number eight Duane Vermeulen will have a neck operation on Wednesday and faces a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup.
Vermeulen, who was South Africa's Rugby Player of the Year in 2014 and the Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, consulted a specialist in Durban on the recommendation of the Springbok medical team.
It was determined immediate surgery would give him the best hope of being fit for the global rugby showpiece in England in September and October.
"This is a huge setback for us," admitted Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer. "As with any injury, it is something we simply have to overcome.
"That Duane is a world-class player was underlined last year when he was named South African Rugby Player of the Year and nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year.
"He is among the leaders in our squad and since making his debut in 2012 has become an integral member of the team."
The surgery rules the 29-year-old out of five pre-tournament matches during July and August, including a Rugby Championship clash with arch-foes New Zealand in Johannesburg.
Western Stormer Vermeulen, who illustrates more than any other forward the ultra-physical South African approach, sustained the injury late in the Super 15 season.
"Duane will be put on an intensive post-operation rehabilitation programme and we will work tirelessly to get him ready for the World Cup," team doctor Craig Roberts said Monday.
"Player welfare is very important which is why we made the decision for Duane to undergo surgery. It is the best medium and long-term career option."
Vermeulen will join European champions Toulon after the World Cup along with Irish captain Paul O’Connell.