Rob Houwing | Boks have historic habit of solving a No 8 pickle

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Duane Vermeulen (Getty)
Duane Vermeulen (Getty)

The sudden precariousness of iron figure Duane Vermeulen's presence for South Africa in the British and Irish Lions series simply cannot be understated.

Along with Eben Etzebeth – himself not yet a shoo-in, fitness wise – the rugged No 8 counts among the top two enforcers, by my book, in the Springbok pack.

Every forward unit worth its salt needs a scattering of such unyielding, in-your-face characters, so the player, nicknamed "Thor", missing all or even part of the three-Test series beginning on 24 July at Cape Town Stadium would be a savage blow to the host nation.

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