Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen is relishing the prospect of returning to action for his country at the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
Vermeulen has made a full recovery since competing his rehabilitation after he underwent neck surgery in June.
“In training I wish I can run into a guy but from this week on everything will fall into place and I can start making contact and still take it a little bit easy in the breakdown sessions,” said Vermeulen.
“I never quit, I was in a difficult position but with the guys that are around you and the energy in the squad it is a big motivator.”
The Toulon-bound back-row is a key member of the Springbok squad who was in a race to be ready for their World Cup campaign.
The 29-year-old said there was a time when he felt he might not be ready to return to action in time for the game's biggest tournament.
“There was a stage where I felt this is going south but I got the confidence from the surgeon, who said I would be ready to go and here I am in a 31-man squad and looking forward to my first World Cup,” he admitted.
Bok team doctor Craig Roberts said Vermeulen was eased back into contact sessions before he gets game-time at the World Cup.
“We've been holding Duane back a little bit and we'll release him when we get to the World Cup,” he explained.
Vermeulen feels he is ready to make contact and is hoping to play in South Africa's opener at the global showpiece against Japan on September 19.
“Luckily the Japanese aren’t like the Samoans that go in high, they tackle nice and low but it would be a good game to make my return,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what game you get, we are preparing ourselves for the first game which is Japan and we’ll take it from there.”