Ulster wait for news on Duane Vermeulen availability

Date published: December 7 2021 - Planet Rugby

Ulster hope that Springbok star Duane Vermeulen will play some part in their Champions Cup clash with Clermont Auvergne but admits that his availability is uncertain.

The number eight arrived in Belfast last week but was immediately forced to isolate after testing positive for Covid.

However, providing he tests negative and is fit enough after spending several days in isolation, Vermeulen could well feature this weekend.

Smart to have him in the team

“It’s quite a complicated one this week in terms of who’s available and who’s not so won’t know (if Vermeulen can play) yet, not until Wednesday,” Ulster head coach Dan McFarland told reporters.

“Hypothetically, it would definitely be great to have him and if he were fit and up and running, it would be very smart to have him in the team.”

Ulster may well need Vermeulen if they are to overcome Clermont in their Champions Cup opener on Saturday.

Although the French outfit have had an inconsistent season domestically, their individual quality is undoubted with McFarland stating: “They have a lot of superstar players who can make superstar plays.”

The Irish province will look to call on the spirit from the 2019/20 campaign, which saw them claim an 18-13 triumph in Belfast.

Ulster then went to Clermont and produced a good performance, but the visitors couldn’t quite take their chances as they succumbed 29-13.

“It was tough, we were reminiscing about it earlier,” McFarland added. “We did a lot of good that day and kept them out of our area for a long period, and they scored right at the end of the game. It’s a game we not, should have, but could have, won.

“We had a couple of moments in and around half-time that put us on the back foot, but look, they are a great team. That makes the task for us one of ensuring that we can bring collective pressure with the way we play and put that pressure onto them.

“It’s a difficult task but one to look forward to. On both times we played them they demonstrated they can create and score out of nothing.

“You can’t over emphasise the quality of the challenge they pose, particularly as in the last few weeks they have been able to bring in some star backs like (Damian) Penaud, Alivereti (Raka), and (Camille) Lopez, so we know the challenge we’ve got.”