Vermeulen welcomes Barnes as ref

Date published: October 16 2015

Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen has welcomed the appointment of Englishman Waynes Barnes for Saturday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with Wales.

The breakdown was a decisive area of the game when Wales won 12-6 in Cardiff the last time these teams met in November as Welsh skipper Sam Warburton had a storming game.

At Friday's press conference Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan said breakdown battle was huge to have a huge influence on the outcome and Vermeulen felt compelled to add that he was happy that Barnes would be on the whistle.

"We have got Wayne Barnes on Saturday and he has been quite excellent at the breakdown so it's going to be a great battle," said Vermeulen, in similar fashion to Heyneke Meyer's comments on Friday when he commended Barnes for his consistency. 

The Bok number eight said he was relishing the battle with Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

"I think we played against all three of them in our previous meeting," he commented. 

"We know quite a lot about them and it's going to be a physical battle. Sam is very good at the breakdown. It's a challenge we are looking forward to."

Vermeulen was clearly in a positive mood and his positive energy was clearly present throughout the whole squad.

"There is a lot of energy in the team. Even if it's nervous energy, it's still an energy. We just need to put it in a positive direction," he said.

Vermeulen welcomed the possibility of rain, saying it could play into his team's hands.

"It is going to be an aerial battle. If you can pin the team down in their half, you might get the turnovers because they are going to play and make mistakes," said Vermeulen.

"It is going to be up front and a real physical battle, and Wales won't shy away from that. They have got a big pack. It is all about the inches."

Meanwhile, Van Graan praised his team for their ability to adapt over the past three games, 

"When we went into this tournament, two of our buzzwords were "composure" and "adaptability"," said the coach.

"I think we’ve shown that through the way we’ve adapted both on and off the field [since the shock loss to Japan].

"The way the team has adapted since losing two captains to injurieshas been excellent. The team has really got behind Fourie. The seniors have been fantastic and younger guys like Handré Pollard and Lood de Jager have really stepped up.

"We’ve had a good week of training, but at the same time we know this is a new game with a new ref, and the players now need to adapt. I can’t wait to see how the team goes at Twickenham."