Paris — Barrel-chested No8 Duane Vermeulen is back in the Springbok squad, returning as official replacement for prop Coenie Oosthuizen whose tour is over‚ but in reality has been called up as stand-in for the concussed Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Vermeulen‚ who last played for the Springboks in their victory over Ireland at Ellis Park in 2016‚ has only played two Tests under coach Allister Coetzee.
He also played in the first Test of that series.
Although Coetzee is increasingly loath to select foreign-based players‚ Vermeulen’s skill set will match what the coach is looking for.
That much became apparent in the way the coach illuminated what Du Toit had to offer.
Whether Vermeulen will this week leapfrog other squad members into the starting team remains to be seen.
Either way‚ Du Toit’s injury has come as a blow.
Usually a lock‚ Du Toit’s efficacy on the side of the scrum had been questioned before he packed down there with some punch against New Zealand in Cape Town.
His partnership with Siya Kolisi and Francois Louw worked on the day.
He delivered another honest shift against Ireland last weekend‚ although most Springbok performances of that calibre were drowned out by mediocrity elsewhere.
"He left the field with five minutes left [against Ireland] for a concussion test which he unfortunately failed‚" said Bok team doctor Conrad von Hagen.
"We’ll follow the normal concussion protocol to determine his return to play, but he won’t be available for selection this weekend."
It comes on the back of tighthead Oosthuizen’s devastating tour-ending injury.
"Coenie had a scan in Dublin and it was an MCL [medial collateral ligament] and ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] tear, which means he will need surgery and he’ll be out for an extended period. He’s on his way home where he’ll see a knee surgeon as soon as possible‚" said Von Hagen.