New Ulster signing Duane Vermeulen has arrived in Belfast and the Northern Irish province’s forwards coach, Roddy Grant, is excited by the prospect of working with the experienced Springbok number eight.
The 35-year-old was set to represent the Barbarians in a Killik Cup fixture against Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday but that match was cancelled 90 minutes before kick-off due to several positive Covid-19 cases in the invitational team’s ranks.
Although Ulster announced Vermeulen’s recruitment in September already, he was playing for South Africa during the Rugby Championship and Autumn Nations Series.
“I’m not sure about availability, he’s arrived,” Grant told RTE Sport when asked about when Vermeulen would be cleared to play.
“He’s in Belfast and going through the protocols of coming in. There are a few things to that. We’re just getting through it today, we’ll see how we go.”
Grant said he is keen to work with a player of Vermeulen’s calibre.
“It’s very exciting obviously,” he said.
“It was announced a while ago but it’s like Christmas, when it comes it’s exciting, certainly for me as a forwards coach.
“There are multiple layers of this. Guys say he’s a brilliant bloke a great leader, obviously has a huge presence.
“Young guys will pick up that, how he carries himself, how he talks, how he plays, he’s so consistent, he’s got massive plays.
“It’s sort of like modelling behaviours.
“For me, he is the best mauler in the world, you’ve got Will Skelton, Uini Atonio who are also some of the best, but I think he’s the best.
“To have him come into our maul is really exciting.
“He’s generally a world class player. It’s a pleasure to coach that.”