Thormeulen always 'switched on' for All Blacks
REACTION: With years of international experience behind him, nobody is more prepared for New Zealand’s redemption onslaught than Springbok star Duane Vermeulen.
The fit-again No.8 returns to the Springboks starting XV that will face the All Blacks in Rugby Championship on Saturday in Johannesburg.
Saturday’s fixture at Ellis Park will be the stalwart’s first Test of the season.
Vermeulen missed the three-Test series against Wales and the Rugby Championship opener against New Zealand in Nelspruit after he had knee surgery in mid-June following his United Rugby Championship campaign with Ulster.
The 36-year-old’s inclusion means that Jasper Wiese moves to the bench in place of lock Salmaan Moerat.
Speaking to reporters about his return, Vermuelen said he is mentally prepared for the task that awaits him at Ellis Park.
However, he has concerns over his match fitness.
“It is international rugby, so mentally you always have to be switched on,” Vermeulen said, adding: “You sit with the coaches and you get a lot of information every day.
“I was out for a bit and I spoke to the coaches and work through the line-outs [and set-pieces], so being mentally switched on is probably the easy part for me because I have been in the game for a number of years.
“But regarding the physical side, we just have to wait and see.
“I’ve been out of action for the last six to eight weeks, and we playing at altitude.
“But we have a strong group of guys and I’m going to give it my best and see how far I can push myself.
“Fortunately we have capable replacements.”
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The Savea show
Vermeulen will have his hands full with All Blacks No.8 Ardie Savea.
Thus far, Savea has been New Zealand’s stand-out performer and will be out to bounce back from last weekend’s horror show.
“Ardie and I both play at No.8, but, we play different styles,” Vermeulen noted.
“We [as the Sringbolks] play more as loose trio combinations and we have our ways of dealing with individual players.
“So for is not about one-on-one battles but it’s a team effort and performance.”
Commenting on Vermeulen’s return, Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber said: “He adds loads of experience and it’s nice to have him back.
“I’m glad to see him return from injury.”