On the eve of his third World Cup tournament, seasoned Springbok Duane Vermeulen admits that he has already thought about retirement.
“Perhaps I should have put my boots away in 2019, but the coaches convinced me to keep playing,” said the rock-hard loose forward.
The Springboks play in their opening game of the World Cup in France on Sunday and after outstanding performances in the South Africans’ last few tests, Vermeulen’s name should be one of the first to be filled in on the team list.
He captained the team to success against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld, while he was one of the forwards who blew away the All Blacks at Twickenham.
“Just before I became part of the Ulster set-up, it was difficult: My body just didn’t want to play along. But I’m enjoying things again since I played my first game for the Springboks this year.”
The former pupil of Nelspruit High School made his international debut against Australia in Perth in 2012. Since then he has represented the Springboks in 70 tests and he was the player of the match in the final of the previous World Cup tournament in Japan.
The average age of the Springboks’ World Cup squad is just over 30 years and according to Vermeulen, players struggle more and more with their mobility as they get older.
“I looked at the younger players and realized that I would have to catch up. However, I worked hard and I am now more mobile than some of the younger men.”
The eight-man was persuaded to end his international career on a high note with the Springboks.
However, things are not going to be easy against the Scots. Gregor Townsend’s team has already proven this year that they are anything but cannon fodder and Vermeulen singled out Finn Russell as one of their danger men.
The Scottish flyhalf is a thorn in the attack and his good passing and creative kicks often put his opponents under pressure.
“He is a magician with the ball in hand. He is someone who gives Scotland so many options on the pitch and he is a brilliant individual player. We will definitely do our homework on him.”