Vermeulen to No.7 a Bok masterstroke?

Wed, 24 May 2017 14:46

REACTION: It may have been lost in the hype surrounding the announcement of the Springbok squad and the new captain, but there appears to have been a dramatic shift in Bok coach Allister Coetzee's approach.

In his debut year, 2016, Coetzee was often accused of trying to get players to adjust and play to his 'structured' game plan.

The selection of his loose forwards is the first indications that the Bok coach will now adapt the game plan to suit the players' strengths.

Coetzee confirmed that new captain Warren Whiteley will be used as a "roaming No.8" and European-based loose forward Duane Vermeulen - who looked a disinterested No.8 last year and never featured again after the June series against Ireland - will see his international career being 'revived' on the blindside flank.

The Springbok coach said his new captain, Whiteley, has been selected based on form - the best No.8 in the country.

"I had numerous chats with Duane Vermeulen," Coetzee said, adding: "In terms of the leadership, they [Whiteley and Vermeulen] compliment each other very well.

"It would be a great combination to have players like Warren and Duane in the side."

The Bok coach confirmed that during his coaching stint with the Stormers, there were already suggestion that Vermeulen would be better suited as a No.7 flank.

"He plays like a blindside flank. He is great in the line-out, strong defensively, he can run off the No.9 and sometimes Duane plays towards the ball as well.

"Warren is a roaming No.8 that plays in the wide channels, like he does for the Lions and [have that] linking ability with the backline.

Coetzee described the Whiteley-Vermeuluan selection as a "logical" combination.

He added that the openside flank will have his specific role to play.

"I am happy with the combination of Warren at No.8, Duane at No.7 and one of the other flanks at No.6."

He said most Super Rugby franchises now have an attacking mindset and that requires an adjustment.

"You will use your loose forwards to find you width and give you the option in the wider channels," Coetzee said, adding: "He [Whiteley] does it well for the Lions and other flanks for the different franchises.

"I am happy we have Warren, that is used to that role and will play the same role at the Springboks."