The missing item: ThorMeulen's bucket list and his big sacrifice
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok superstar Duane Vermeulen has opened up on the tough decision he had to make ahead of the series against the British and Irish Lions.
Vermeulen missed out on his team’s 2-1 series victory as he was still recovering from a serious ankle injury, which required surgery.
The No.8 also missed his team’s first two Rugby Championship matches against Argentina, but he has declared himself fit for the remainder of the tournament in Australia.
“It was tough missing out on the Lions,” Vermeulen told reporters during a virtual media briefing from the Boks’ base in Queensland.
“It was obviously one last bucket list tick that I wanted to have.
“However, I was part of the squad and lucky enough to be next to the field with the players when they played the last game,” he said of the series-clinching third Test.
He added: “My injury was a bit more severe than everyone else thought.
“I was hoping to get back on the field for the first Test against the Lions, but unfortunately, I wasn’t ready.
“I gave it my all in training and I went to [Bok coach] Jacques [Nienaber] and said: ‘I am going to drop the team if you put me out on the field’.
“I made a tough decision, but that was the right decision at that stage.
“I needed to make sure I heal up completely and be ready and fit for the following games.
“It was difficult sitting on the sidelines, but by running with the water on the touchline, you can get into the coach’s head and you can be that extra voice for the coaches.”
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Vermeulen turned 35 in July, but he still has a few goals he wants to achieve with the team.
When asked if the 2023 World Cup was on his mind, Vermeulen replied: “I’m here aren’t I. You will keep on pushing as long as you can until you can’t keep up anymore.
“I have spoken to Jacques before and said I will try and do my best and play my part in the squad.
“If he sees that I am not pulling my weight or if I can’t keep up with the pace of the game then we need to sit down and talk about it.
“I am still pushing and trying my best to run out there and play alongside my teammates and represent my country as best as I can.
“I am looking forward to the next couple of challenges that lie ahead and if that pushes you to another World Cup then so be it. I am looking forward to that,” he said.