Vermeulen in a race to be fit for Rugby World Cup

Duane Vermeulen will miss the Rugby Championship

Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen is in a race to be fit for South Africa’s Rugby World Cup campaign in England.

Vermeulen will have a neck operation on Wednesday this week which will keep him out of the Rugby Championship and if all goes well he could be eased back in during the world cup pool stage matches.

“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.

South Africa open their World Cup Pool B campaign on September 19 against Japan in southern coastal town Brighton.

The surgery rules the 29-year-old No. 8 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.

“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.”

Roberts said,”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.

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