‘It’s an unbelievable honour for me’ – Duane Vermeulen

Date published: July 26 2019 - Adam Kyriacou

Duane Vermeulen has admitted it will be an honour to lead out South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand on Saturday. 

Vermeulen will captain the Springboks for the first time when they face the All Blacks in Wellington in what will also be his first match against the New Zealanders since the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final in England.

The South African number eight has been entrusted with the leadership duties for this encounter in the absence of regular Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who is recovering from a knee injury, and revealed it will be a proud moment leading the side.

“Only a few players had the honour of captaining the Springboks in the history of our game, so it is an unbelievable honour for me,” he said.

“There’s a bit of emotion, but it’s controlled emotion.”

The captaincy role is of course not new for the very experienced Vermeulen, who has led the Cape Town-based Stormers on many occasions in Super Rugby, before successful stints in the French and Japanese leagues.

When he was asked to describe his style of captaincy, Vermeulen replied: “The people who know me will tell you that I just love to play, and that I am not one for big speeches.

“I think I lead by example, and from that point of view it’s the way I like to play the game.

“My role in the team still stays the same and we have a big leadership group, which is good for the team. On match days there’s a couple of us who talk on the field.”

It will be two much-changed squads that will play against each other on Saturday in Wellington, after both coaches decided to make wholesale changes by bringing back a big group of players that were not involved in the opening round of the Rugby Championship.

“Both teams are looking forward to this game,” said Vermeulen.

“We both maybe tried out a few combinations last week to see who some of the guys are that will be putting up their hands for Rugby World Cup selection.

“I think tomorrow will be a massive game with both sides ready to have a good go at each other.”