This afternoon’s Rugby Championship game between the Springboks and Argentina at Ellis Park is not only Jacques Nienaber’s last home game as head coach of the Boks, but it could also be Duane Vermeulen’s final international matchup in South Africa before he perhaps hangs up his rugby boots.
The hard-bearded loose forward has played in more than 60 tests for the Springboks, but at the age of 37, he knows that the clock is not standing back for anyone. Not even for Duane Vermeulen.
“As a team we talked about the fact that this is probably my last home game in a Springbok jersey. It may be an emotional moment, but it is important that I use those emotions to lead the team well,” said Vermeulen.
The World Cup group will be announced on August 8 and according to the former pupil of Nelspruit High School, the players want to use every opportunity to stake their claim for France.
The eight man will be 37 years and 69 days old when the Springboks play their opening game of the knockout tournament against Scotland in Marseille.
Admittedly, choosing a player for his experience and reputation can sometimes backfire badly – just ask the Proteas who relied on an injured Dale Steyn and a struggling Hashim Amla in the previous World Cup in England.
But until recently, “Thor” still rumbled his opponents in the colors of Ulster.
According to the official United Rugby Championship statistics, Vermeulen barely missed a tackle, while he also achieved reverse possession quite a few times.
In addition, he also played a cracking game when he captained the Springboks against the Wallabies at Ellis Park.
“If I can add value to the team, I will definitely fight for a place in the group. I want to be part of the Bok team and I want to represent them at the World Cup,” said Vermeulen in a previous interview with RugbyPass.
This afternoon’s Ellis Park match is also the Springboks’ final dress rehearsal in South Africa before the World Cup preparations begin in earnest.
“We definitely want to end things on a high note. If we play well and win decently it will be even more special.”
The action kicks off this afternoon at 17:05 and it will be broadcast live on SuperSport.