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How Bulls are reaping rewards from the Ackermann influence

WATCH as Bulls lock Ruan Vermaak identifies the reason behind his improved form at the Pretoria franchise.

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Vermaak was recently part of the promising crop of talent who committed to the Bulls with a long-term contract extension.

His latest deal will see him remain at Loftus Versfeld until June 2027.

The agreement did not come as a surprise, as Vermaak has been delivering incredible performance for Jake White’s team.

The 26-year-old has become a solid figure in the franchise’s United Rugby Championship campaign, and his partnership with captain Ruan Norjte seems to grow with confidence with each game.

While Vermaak has shown that Pretoria remains a place for second row forwards to thrive, it was a challenging personal journey for him.

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After making his professional debut for the Lions in 2019, Vermaak set sail for Japan in 2020 where he joined Red Hurricanes under then coach Johan Ackermann.

The former Junior Springbok revealed that it was under the guidance of the former Springbok lock, Ackermann’ where he perfected his craft.

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“It was not only external factors, it wasn’t just about the game, there was also stuff going on in my personal life that made me decide to go to Japan,” Vermaak said.

“I learned a lot from being coached by Johan Ackermann, to work with him.

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“He was a Springbok lock.

“What he taught me is what I could implement in my game and bring it back to South Africa was huge for me.

“The big thing for me was being able to play under coach Johan and learn from him.”

He added: “I’ve been fortunate enough to play in two or three different competitions at a young age, which is something special. I feel privileged

“I only have good things to say about the two years in Japan.

“I learned a lot, so I was very fortunate and grateful to be part of that.”

Vermaak would again have to put in another shift when the Bulls host the Benetton this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld.

Benetton will target another South African scalp, after their win over Sharks Durban last week.

And for the Bulls, it’s a case of avoiding the second-half slump they experienced during the 40-34 win over Glasgow Warriors.

“We have to keep in mind what happened last weekend and make sure we don’t fall into that trap again,” Vermaak said after his side almost saw a win slip out of their grasp in the final quarter – having held a 37-10 lead.

“We have to make sure we are on the same page.

“We are looking forward to Benetton. We know they are going to be a quality side.

“We want to get maximum points from these next two games [against Benetton and Sharks] before the knockout stage. We are taking it week by week and are just focused on the game against Benetton this weekend.

“I would not say there is any unnecessary external pressure.

“It’s just to focus on making sure we get the job done this weekend.

“We are expecting a physical game from Benetton. They have a lot of fight, as we saw last weekend. They play an 80-minute game and keep coming at you, but they also have a bit of flair as well.”

“We just have to make sure we prepare well.”

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