Springboks: Duane Vermeulen tips Evan Roos for international call-up

Colin Newboult

Springbok back-row great Duane Vermeulen has praised the performances of fellow number eight Evan Roos ahead of Ulster’s clash with the Stormers.

Vermeulen, who plays for the Northern Irish province, will go head-to-head with the 22-year-old this weekend when they take on the South African franchise in Cape Town.

Despite his advancing years, the 61-times capped international remains a favourite of the Bok set-up and is still their preferred option at eight.

Plenty of youngsters are snapping at his heels, however, including Roos, and the 35-year-old is a fan of the Stormers powerhouse.

Exceptional player

“There’s big talk about him. He’s an exceptional player and plays well in the Stormers’ set-up. He’s a big carrier for them,” Vermeulen said.

“We play completely different styles. He’s out and running in the backline and from lineouts, where I am with the forwards. There’s a whole different game plan – you can match him with Nick Timoney or Marcus Rea.

“He’s been really influential in the way they play and he’s racked up a couple of player of the match performances.

“It’s really good for them, he is playing well and hopefully he gets an opportunity in the national squad. If you play well, you need to get an opportunity somewhere else. Hopefully, it’s national colours.”

The Stormers defeated Ulster in the regular season fixture, overcoming their opponents 23-20 in March, but Vermeulen believes that they can improve significantly ahead of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship semi-final.

“We weren’t really on our game on that day,” he added. “We gave two early, easy tries at the beginning and they were 14-0 up. It was a tough task to fight back.

“Some decisions didn’t go our way, but you can’t put yourself in that kind of position to win a game. Hopefully, we can do a little bit better this time around.”

READ MORE: Opinion: Brutal back-row choice looms for Springbok coach


Stormers excel despite the odds

The Stormers have put together an amazing season without significant resources.