VIDEO: 'Never underestimate the value of a good captain'
WATCH as Bulls coach Jake White breaks down his team’s 26-21 win over the Lions in the Currie Cup semifinal at the weekend.
White may not have said it directly, but captaincy was the ‘real’ difference between the two teams.
Despite the final margin – the result of a late consolation score by the Lions – the Bulls were good value for their win.
Decision-making and calmness under pressure are two of the key reasons for the Bulls’ win.
Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen had the experience and gray matter to outsmart Lions counterpart Elton Jantjies when it mattered most.
They held a comfortable 14-0 lead at halftime and – despite the Lions having levelled the scores at 14-all early in the second half – the Bulls pulled clear to hold a commanding 12-point (26-14) lead going into the final quarter.
“I say again, the fact that we had such a calm captain [was the key],” White said.
“Duane played very well,” he said of Vermeulen, adding: “I think he was part of the impact.
“He was on a different level.
“That’s what you want, you want your best players to be on form in these crucial elimination matches. They must play their best rugby.”
Vermeulen not only outplayed the Lions with his powerful carries and he made his tackles.
However, it was his decision-making that really set him apart.
“You must not underestimate what a good Captain means,” White said, when quizzed about Vermeulen’s role.
“He was excellent – the manner in which handled everything.”
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Special things happening
He pointed out that Vermeulen is the type of player that comes to the fore in big games – a player who was man of the match in a World Cup Final.
“He knows that certain things are working and you have to trust him – especially the captain who takes over on a Saturday.
“The manner in which he spoke to his team was key. Two minutes after the break we were 14-0 up and then suddenly after six minutes, we were 14-all.
“It is fantastic that the captain can maintain calmness and speak to them calmly.
“Duane did well, but I think there is a special thing that happens in the team itself.
“He [Vermeulen] said in the changeroom [after the match] it’s unbelievable to see the determination of the team.
“Every time they are tested – even in the Griquas game in the first Super Rugby Unlocked round were we struggling a bit, then suddenly won the game, or last penalty kick or the conversion we had against Western Province at Newlands – every person showed that determination.
“They are an incredible bunch of players.”