Super Rugby

Lockdown challenges mean Duane still hasn't chatted to Jake yet

Duane Vermeulen (Supplied)
Duane Vermeulen (Supplied)
  • Springbok star Duane Vermeulen hasn't had a chat with Jake White yet as lockdown continues to pose logistical challenges at Loftus. 
  • Bulls players not currently in Pretoria expected to have clarity on their next move by the middle of the week.
  • Despite the uncertainty, Vermeulen has no regrets re-signing to play for the franchise.

Duane Vermeulen has laid bare the stark difference between South African rugby's return-to-training protocols and actual reality.

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While franchises have commenced with extensive medical testing this week in anticipation of being given the green light for non-contact drills, the Bulls in particular are still battling various logistical challenges due to the country's lockdown.

In an Instagram chat with legendary Springbok lock Victor Matfield, Vermeulen - who earlier this year signed up again for another stint at Loftus - revealed he hasn't spoken directly to Director of Rugby, Jake White, yet.

Not that it's been too disconcerting for the stalwart No 8, who's fully aware that White first wanted to finalise his coaching staff before commencing with other duties.

The World Cup-winning former Springbok coach also only arrived in Pretoria last week after some relaxation of travel restrictions.

"I actually haven't heard anything from him yet. I've had a chat with one of our assistant coaches previously and generally I've only been in contact with our team manager," said Vermeulen, who himself is still at home in Cape Town.

"Hopefully when I go back up to Pretoria we can have a nice chat about to see where we are and what needs to be done.

"It's been pretty quiet, but I think it's also a matter of Jake firstly 'cleaning things up' there, getting the right people he wants to work with and developing plans for how they want to work with the players."

While the Pretoria-based players are expected to report for duty, White and co are understood to be investing in a meeting with the men who are currently based in other provinces.

Scrumhalf Embrose Papier, for example, has been training on his own after making the trek down to the Western Cape to be with family before hard lockdown started in late March.

"We'll hear what our next step is (on Tuesday) and when we need to move back up to Pretoria," said Vermeulen.

"That should provide clarity on our medical testing procedures and for how long we will still need to train on our own."

The relatively disjointed state of affairs though hasn't remotely prompted Vermeulen to have second thoughts about his decision to re-sign.

"It was quite funny. When you play for the arch-enemy down in the Cape at Newlands, you're not very popular when you go to Loftus. You almost get booed off the park," he said with a chuckle.

"When I first signed, I was immediately accepted by my Bulls teammates and the supporters. It was great to see how easily people can change and just how powerful a supporters' group can be when they really get behind their team. It was a really easy transition for me and a fantastic experience." 

- Compiled by Sport24 staff