VIDEO: Province prop may have suffered career-ending injury
Alistair Fernando Vermaak has been a loyal and valuable servant of Western Province and the Stormers.
However, his career as a player may be in the balance, after he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in WP’s shock 28-30 loss to Griquas in a Currie Cup match at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday this week.
Coach John Dobson admitted he thought Vermaak had suffered another neck injury, when he departed the field in the second half of the loss to Griquas.
Vermaak sustained a neck injury during a pre-season training session with the Stormers in 2019.
After undergoing an MRI, Vermaak was told that he might not be able to play again, as he would be putting himself at risk of paralysis.
The injury sidelined the 32-year-old out until he made a remarkable comeback in November last year.
However, the latest injury may well be the final blow.
“I also thought it was his neck initially, but it is actually his Achilles [tendon],” Dobson told @rugby365com, when asked about the veteran front row forward.
The coach admitted the tendon was “ruptured”.
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“It could be a career [ending, or] very long-term injury,” Dobson said.
“It is a hell of a blow for us.”
Vermaak, who has played more than 80 games for WP and 30-odd for the Stormers, is the most senior front row forward in the Currie Cup squad – with players like Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Siyabonga Ntubeni on national team duty.
Dobson said he will not be looking outside the current squad for replacement options.
The loosehead prop options include Leon Lyons and Kwenzo Blose.
“As you saw when Sazi [Sandi] went off [with a concussion], we were given a tough time in the scrums,” the coach said.
“Our options there are Leon Lyons and Kwenzo Blose.
“Both are really good young props, but we are going to have to revisit our approach to scrums.
“We have been keeping the same approach through all the competitions, no matter who the personnel are.
“Now you take away Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Neethling Fouche, Ali Vermaak, Sazi Sandi, Bongi [Mbonambi] and Scarra [Ntubeni].
“We are going to have to give some youngsters game time and maybe look at rebuilding there, because we cannot afford to give away penalties like we did [against Griquas].”
Asked about the possibility of recruiting, he said he will look internally.
“Guys like Leon need to be given an opportunity now.
“If we get one more [injury], well, we still have Deon Bleuler, who is at Maties.
“You don’t want to bring somebody in from the outside who isn’t better than the youngster you have and blocking his path.
“We were keen to give Leon some game time at some stage.”
- Picture credit: @WP_RUGBY