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    Vermeulen off to Stormers ... via Japan?

    2018-01-20 16:19
    Duane Vermeulen during Saturday's win over the Rebels (Gallo Images).

    Cape Town - There appears to be uncertainly over the exact return date of star Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen to South Africa - and the Stormers in particular.

    Earlier in the week it was confirmed by Vermeulen's French Top 14 side Toulon that the 31-year-old would be leaving the club he joined in 2015 in order to return to South Africa to prepare adequately for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

    Stormers fans were naturally ecstatic at the news, believing the burly loose forward would be a major boost to the 2018 Super Rugby title hopes, but it now appears Vermeulen will play very little - if at all - for the Cape franchise this year.

    Vermeulen would miss most of the Super Rugby tournament in any case due to his Toulon commitments with the French Top 14 season ending with their final on June 2.

    According to the Netwerk24 website, it appears Vermeulen is likely to accept a short-term contract in Japan where he has been linked with the Kubota Spears club, before making his permanent return to South Africa.

    The Kubota Spears are currently coached by former Bulls mentor, Frans Ludeke.

    If true, such a contract could put Vermeulen's participation in the three-Test midyear series against England - which starts on June 9 - in doubt, something new SA Rugby head honcho Rassie Erasmus will no doubt be eager to avoid.

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