Ulster's Bok import 'positive' for COVID
NEWS: Ulster’s latest recruit from South Africa won’t be featuring for the Irish province this week.
World Cup-winning Springbok Duane Vermeulen is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.
The World Cup-winning Springbok forward was intended to link up with his new teammates, following South Africa’s year-end Tests and the Barbarians’ game with Samoa.
However, the BaaBaas match was called off 90 minutes prior to kick-off, following a COVID outbreak among their playing squad and 35-year-old back row forward Vermeulen has since also tested positive.
Ulster faces Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday, December 4, before facing a testing opening pair of European Champions Cup games against French giants Clermont Auvergne and Premiership outfit Northampton Saints.
“Ulster can confirm there will be a delay in Duane Vermeulen joining up with the squad, following his arrival in Belfast,” the province said in a statement.
“As a result of testing positive for COVID-19 prior to entering the professional squad bubble, Vermeulen will not train with the team this week.
“He will continue to be monitored medically and is currently well.
“The Public Health Agency has been contacted, and it is expected that he will integrate into the squad over the course of next week.”
Squad Update: Duane Vermeulen
We can confirm there will be a delay in Duane Vermeulen joining up with the Senior Men’s squad following his arrival in Belfast.
More info ⤵️
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) November 30, 2021
This news came only a few hours after forwards coach Roddy Grant had expressed how significant the addition of the 61-times-capped former Toulon star would be for Ulster.
“It was announced a while ago but it’s like Christmas, when it comes it’s exciting, certainly for me as a forwards coach,” Grant said.
“There are multiple layers of this. Guys say he’s a brilliant bloke a great leader, obviously has a huge presence.
“Young guys will pick up that, how he carries himself, how he talks, how he plays, he’s so consistent, he’s got massive plays. It’s sort of like modelling behaviours.
“For me, he is the best mauler in the world, you’ve got Will Skelton, Uini Atonio who are also some of the best, but I think he’s the best.
“To have him come into our maul is really exciting. He’s generally a world-class player. It’s a pleasure to coach that.”