Vermeulen boost for Boks
Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen has returned to training with Western Province and should be available for the Rugby Championship.
The 27-year-old has been sidelined since May with a serious knee injury but was able to take part full in the on-field session at the High Performance Centre in Bellville on Monday.
Vermeulen was a star performer for South Africa in the Rugby Championship last season and is expected to be called straight back into Bok coach Heyneke Meyer's squad to prepare for the opening Test against Argentina in Soweto on August 17.
“Duane is looking very comfortable and I am sure he will be ready to play quite soon. The only problem for us is that I am sure he will be called up to the Springbok squad and asked to continue at international level where he left off last year,” said Western Province coach Coetzee.
“The Bok squad will be announced in a fortnight's time and I expect Duane to get the nod.”
WP start their Currie Cup campaign just a week before the Rugby Championsip when they face the Blue Bulls at Newlands on 10 August.
Flanker Michael Rhodes also returned to training on Monday but hooker Tiaan Liebenberg is still out with injury and is expected to return to training in three weeks.
Former Bok openside Schalk Burger will see a specialist on Wednesday and only then will Western Province know when he will to return to action.
Coetzee also confirmed that Springbok full-back/centre Jaco Taute has signed for Western Province in the first of several expected moves ahead of next season's Super Rugby campaign.
Taute picked up a season-ending injury earlier this year while playing for the Stormers, who secured his services following a loan agreement with the Lions.
Coetzee said Taute was unlikely to play again this year, even if he returned to fitness at the tail-end of the Currie Cup season.
“The player negotiations we are busy with presently are aimed at strengthening our Super Rugby squad for next season,” added Coetzee.
“Taute has agreed to terms and there are more negotiations going on to secure other players.
“At this stage the signings are not for the Currie Cup squad. I want the local talent to use the Currie Cup to prove their worth and possibly earn a contract for next year."
SA Under-20 and Sevens star Cheslin Kolbe suffered whiplash playing for the Vodacom Cup side and would be rested this week. He was in the running for the full-back berth in the WP team.
“Cheslin has been playing non-stop for several months and he needs a break,” said Coetzee.
“His injury is nothing serious but the rest will do him good at this stage.”
Coetzee was considering using Kolbe on the wing initially and using Gio Aplon at full-back.
“Out on the wing may be a better option to blood Cheslin in the Currie Cup," he said.
"Gio has played so well there when called on in the past.”
Coetzee also announced wing Gerhard van den Heever would be released after the season in order to join Irish side Munster.
Hooker/flanker Deon Fourie will again captain the WP Currie Cup side this season.