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Stormers captain Vermeulen returns for Bulls clash

Vermeulen missed the final two weeks of the Super Rugby tour as part of the Saru rest agreement.

FILE: Stormers loose forward Duane Vermeulen trains with his side in  Bellville. Picture: Rafiq Wagiet/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Springbok No. 8 Duane Vermeulen is back from his two-week rest period and will lead the Stormers in Saturday's Super Rugby north-south derby against the Bulls at Newlands (kick-off is at 19h10).

Vermeulen missed the final two weeks of the Stormers' Super Rugby tour as part of the South African Franchises' rest agreement with SA Rugby, but his return marks one of four changes to the starting line-up that defeated the Western Force in Perth last Saturday.

Two of the four changes are injury enforced, with Johnny Kotze and Pat Howard (on debut) replacing the injured wing duo of Kobus van Wyk (knee, six weeks) and Dillyn Leyds (shoulder, one week), respectively.

Howard will make his Super Rugby debut, with Kotze set to win his sixth cap.

Nizaam Carr moves to the bench to make way for Vermeulen's expected return to action, whilst the fourth and final change sees Nic Groom take over at scrumhalf from Louis Schreuder, who like Carr, reverts to the bench.

Joining Carr and Schreuder amongst the replacements is prop Oli Kebble, with Ali Vermaak, along with Sikhumbuzo Notshe, doing duty for the Western Province Cup team this weekend.

Looking ahead to Saturday's clash, which is already a near sell-out, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said "It doesn't get much bigger than a North-South Derby at Newlands, does it?

"The Bulls are the SA Conference leaders, they have six Springboks in their pack and six in their backline with three more on the bench. It's a powerful team and a team that has won six out of their last seven games, we're expecting a Test-match like battle on Saturday.

"We know we weren't at our best last weekend, but we have had to train smartly in this short week to make the necessary improvements and adjustments in our game against this strong Bulls team."