AUDIO: 'As tough as they get'
LISTEN as Duane Vermeulen speaks about captaining the Springboks for the first time.
The veteran loose forward will lead them out in Wellington on Saturday when South Africa takes on New Zealand in a crucial Rugby Championship encounter on Saturday.
It will be his first match against the New Zealanders since the epic 2015 World Cup semifinal in England – which the All Blacks won 20-18.
The big South African No.8 has been entrusted with the captaincy duties for this encounter in the absence of regular Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who is recovering from a knee injury.
“Only a few players get the honour of captaining the Springboks,” Vermeulen said, adding: “I am [just] No.62, so it is an unbelievable honour for me,”
Vermeulen said taking on the All Blacks in New Zealand is “as tough as they get”.
“There’s a bit of emotion, but it’s controlled emotion.
“It is going to be a tough one, but I am looking forward to the challenge.”
He said the Boks will go out “guns blazing” in what is going to be a massive clash.
The captaincy role is of course not new for the 33-year-old, 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,” said Vermeulen.
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 it will be a massive game, with both sides ready to have a good go at each other.”