Duane Vermeulen could make Ulster debut against Clermont Auvergne

South African number eight working his way back to match fitness after Covid diagnosis

Duane Vermeulen could make his Ulster debut in their opening Heineken Champions Cup game away to Clermont on Saturday. Photograph: Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Barbarians

Duane Vermeulen could make his Ulster debut in their opening Heineken Champions Cup game away to Clermont on Saturday. Photograph: Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Barbarians

 

South Africa’s World Cup-winning number eight Duane Vermeulen could be in line to make his Ulster debut in their opening Heineken Champions Cup game away to Clermont Auvergne on Saturday although the province are remaining tight-lipped over the fitness of their new signing.

The 35-year-old Vermeulen linked up with his new team-mates and is working his way back to match fitness after it was announced last week that he had returned a positive Covid-19 result upon arrival in Belfast, following a stint with the Barbarians prior to the cancellation of their game against Samoa at Twickenham.

Ulster’s squad update said only that his fitness will be “monitored” over the course of the week but that he “remains well” as he completes a “graduated return to training programme”.

Bradley Roberts (ankle), Marty Moore (concussion) and Tom Stewart (foot), who were all withdrawn during Saturday’s defeat to Ospreys, will all miss out on the trip to France.

They join Jacob Stockdale (ankle), Luke Marshall (knee), Will Addison (lower leg), Iain Henderson (hamstring), Cormac Izuchukwu (knee) and Jordi Murphy (knee) on the current list of absentees.

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