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Vermeulen relishing Nelspruit Test

18th June 2014 07:41

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Duane Vermeulen SA v Wales EOYT 2013

Duane Vermeulen: Returns to his hometown

Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen is hoping for a special performance against Wales when he makes his homecoming appearance in Nelspruit on Saturday.

Playing in his 18th Test in the green and gold, Vermeulen missed out on the first ever Springbok match played in Nelspruit, against Scotland last year, because of injury.

The 28-year-old would return to the place where he took his first steps on the rugby field as a barefoot youngster.

"I missed out last year, so hopefully I can get a good start this weekend," he said.

"I grew up here and I know most of the people and it's nice to hear and see that the people are coming out in their numbers to watch this Test and I'm just looking forward to it.

"It's a massive occasion but hopefully it turns out to be a good one."

Vermeulen suffered a serious knee injury three years ago which kept him out of contention for the Springbok squad at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

However, he did not have to wait much longer before making his Test debut against Australia in Perth on September 8, 2012.

The influential loose forward again suffered a knee injury on the Stormers' tour of Australasia in 2013 which ruled him out for the June internationals.

He made a powerful return during last year's Rugby Championship and had since taken ownership of the number-eight jersey.

While it seemed unlikely any other player would take his starting position away from him any time soon, Vermeulen remained humble in his assessment of his performances at number eight.

"It's easy to get here, it's difficult to stay here - you're never safe," he said.

"You've got to pitch up with that mindset -- that you want to be the best and stay in this spot -- and not think about losing your place."

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