Vermeulen no fan of enforced rest

Date published: April 28 2015

Springbok and Stormers number eight Duane Vermeulen has yet to be convinced of the benefits of enforced mid-season rest breaks.

The Stormers skipper played just one game on his team's four-game overseas tour as part of SARU's agreement with the franchises to rest key players.

Yet Vermeulen was in top form in his comeback game, playing an influential role in the Stormers' win over the Bulls at Newlands last Saturday.

But he said it wasn't easy to pick up from where he left off.

"I think in the long run you might feel [the benefits] but in a way it is like you don't get momentum," said Vermeulen.

"If you play four games and rest two and you get back into the squad and it has evolved.

"I just want to play, so if I can be on the pitch every week then I am happy. They have got a plan with that and we will see how it works later on this year."

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee clearly believes in the benefits of resting players, but he was happy to see his skipper leading by example as the Cape Town side moved to the top of the South African Conference.

Vermeulen was full of energy in the closing stages of the crunch battle and showed great instincts when he charged down what would have been a match-winning drop-goal from Bulls fly-half Handre Pollard almost on the stroke of full-time.

"The drop-goal could've gone over (in the 79th minute), so I could've been singing a different tune I guess, but fortunately we had Duane Vermeulen on our side – it’s not something you can coach," said Coetzee.

"His awareness was good.

"But what was also good was that Duane did not try and kick the ball ahead, which could've turned possession around again, instead he dived on it and slowed it down to get the numbers.

"The Bulls came to play, but, once again, our team showed character in what was a short week (after our tour) and in the context of this competition this is an excellent win for us, it’s an important four points."

Vermeulen said that the charge-down came with a dose of good luck as he read the signals between Bulls scrum-half Piet van Zyl and Pollard.

The Stormers will rest Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth and prop Steven Kitshoff for Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs.

"At this stage in the season we have to look at players’ recovery, it is taxing on players and we have got to make sure we manage them properly to ensure they pitch up in every game with the same physical intensity,” said Coetzee.

"That is the challenge you have as a coaching staff and the big thing for me is to back the squad.

"The Cheetahs are a good side and we won't make changes to break our momentum, we have got to back our squad and make sure that these guys are always fresh."