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VIDEO: Why Vermeulen is more than just a 'coach' in Bok set-up

SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks are feeding off Duane Vermeulen’s intimate knowledge of the modern game and his familiarity with the current players as they aim to reach new heights in the Test arena.

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That is the view of Bok head coach Rassie Erasmus as he plots the way forward to the 2027 World Cup in Australia.

Last year, Vermeulen hung up his boots after winning the World Cup for a second time in an 11-year Test career.

He notched up 76 Test caps and is viewed as one of the great Springboks

With his experience, it was vital that he continued to play a role in South Africa and was immediately thrust into a roving coach role with SARU’s national teams.

He is in the Springbok set-up as they aim to win a series against Ireland in Durban on Saturday.

The Boks won the opening Test in Pretoria 27-20 and speaking ahead of that second Test, Erasmus explained how Vermeulen is bringing a “player’s perspective” to the Bok management team.

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“We are now in a Test season, so he is spending more time with us,” said Erasmus.

“But he is not the guy who is the ‘boss of the players’ or something like that.

“He brings in things that are still relevant.

“I can try and teach guys how we used to steal [the ball] at the breakdown and see how other coaches do it to upskill ourselves, but Duane is a guy who still played last year.

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“He played against the Irish and he played for Ulster.

“It’s the same level – the players and him.

“He is not a coach up there, but is part of our management team.

“Sometimes when we think that player is not giving his best and we have to talk to him, Duane brings a player’s perspective into it, which helps a lot.

“He is 38 so he is not a young man anymore and he talks with real experience.

“I think the players have received him well and he has adapted in a way that nobody feels uncomfortable about that, which I am really glad about.”

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As a player, Vermeulen was an expert when it came to the breakdowns and he is working closely with defence coach Jerry Flannery and SARU’s National Laws Advisor Jaco Peyper to get the Boks firing again in that department.

“With the new laws coming in we knew that there will be a lot of pressure on the breakdowns by the refs and by the players contesting for the ball,” said Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

“Jerry has come in and he is working with Duane on trying to improve our breakdown skills.

“Jaco Peyper is teaching the laws. When do we counter-ruck and when is the ball out?

“We know the Irish team will come harder than they did at Loftus. They pride themselves on getting to our No.9 and slowing down our ball.

“It’s something we have to work hard on.

“We saw how it impacted our play. It’s something we definitely have to focus on, and we have someone like Duane who has been doing it for years.

“He knows all the ground skills and he is teaching us.”

@rugby365com

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