Odds now favour Duane playing
Duane Vermeulen did not participate in the DHL Stormers training session on Monday afternoon, but coach Allister Coetzee indicated that the big No8’s chances of starting against the Sharks were now better than 50/50.
The influential loose-forward’s race against time to be fit for the big Super Rugby semi-final against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday has been the talking point around the Stormers during their two week build-up to the match. Initially he was given only an outside chance of being able to play as he recovered from the knee injury that has kept him out since April.
However when he pitched at training last Thursday his chances strengthened to the point where he was given an outside chance of playing, and those chances got better when he apparently took a full part in training sessions at Hermanus last Friday. When he wasn’t on the field on Monday journalists assumed that it was an indication he was out of the game, but Coetzee gave a different story.
“Duane has taken part in two big training sessions after a long period of inactivity so we felt it was wise to keep him off his feet today,” said Coetzee.
“It all hinges on how he recovers from the training. That is what we are waiting to see. Sitting him out today was a precautionary, but we are expecting him to train with the side tomorrow (Tuesday). He is definitely still in the mix for the weekend.”
When asked what the chances of Vermeulen playing were, Coetzee hesitated for a bit, but then gave an answer that should please Stormers fans who know how important his physicality will be to the quest to suffocate the Sharks.
“It’s a difficult question to answer as it depends on a few things, but I would say that he has about a 65% to 70% chance of playing,” said the coach.
“He hasn’t taken contact as yet. He will do that for the first time tomorrow. We don’t want to rush him back if he is not ready as there are various targets we are working towards. And we won’t field him against the Sharks if there is a chance he won’t be completely ready and won’t be able to participate fully. This is a semi-final and if we play him it will be because he is really strong and fit. He has got to be effective.”