CJ backs 'wily' Duane to make World Cup impact
INTERVIEW: There may well be many doubters who will wonder if there is another World Cup in Duane Vermeulen’s ageing legs.
Having played for the Pumas, Cheetahs, Stormers, Toulon, Spears (Japan) and Bulls, before heading to Ulster last year, it is fair to say Vermeulen has been around the block.
Now add in his 61 Springbok Test and the 35-year-old has 380-odd fist-class games to his credit since 2005.
He turns 36 early in July and will be 37 when the World Cup comes around in France in September next year.
However, former Baby Bok and Ireland Test star Christiaan Johan Stander believes Vermeulen is still a vital cog in South Africa’s national team.
Having played against Vermeulen and trained with him on a handful of occasions, Stander described the Bok veteran as a ‘wily’ player.
“He reminds of [Munster’s Irish veteran] Peter O’Mahony, who is playing exceptional rugby,” Stander told a virtual media briefing.
“A year or two ago the same reports [about being too old] were floating around about O’Mahony,” he said of the 84-times capped 32-year-old Irish loose forward.
Stander said, just like O’Mahony, you can’t write Vermeulen off at all.
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“The great thing he did was move to Ulster and get some Northern Hemisphere rugby into him,” Stander added.
“That will help him at the end of the day.”
He said that while there is exciting young talent coming through in South Africa – like Elrigh Louw and Evan Roos – coming through the ranks, they can “learn” a lot from Vermeulen.
“However, I think he [Vermeulen] is going to be a vital part of the Bok team at the World Cup,” he said of next year’s global showpiece in France.
Stander, 32, played for the Baby Boks and 50-odd games for the Bulls, before moving to Limerick in 2012.
Not only did he play more than 150 games for Munster, but also earned 50-odd Ireland caps and played for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2017.
He retired from the game last year and returned to South Africa – where he combines working for a construction company and farming “on the side” for a living.