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Vermeulen's unorthodox path to World Cup

INTERVIEW: Daniel Johannes ‘Duane’ Vermeulen has one mission before he bids farewell to the beautiful game.


The Springbok star is currently without a top-level team after he left Irish side Ulster at the end of the United Rugby Championship 2023 season.

However, that fact has not deteriorated South Africa’s most decorated rugby players from putting everything into making the Springbok World Cup 2023 squad.

Having been part of the Springboks 2019 World Cup winning side, the 2023 showpiece in France will be his final World Cup before he retires from a game that has been part of his life since the young boy, who dreamt of Springbok glory.

“I’m focused on this Rugby World Cup,” The 36-year-old Vermeulen said.

“If I play, I’ll give it my everything. If I carry a bag or I’m on the bench, I’ll give it my everything. If I’m on the sidelines helping younger players or working like a coach, I’ll give it my everything.

“I would love to be a part of it and end my career on a proper high.”


Vermeulen added: “Winning the World Cup is the pinnacle of a player’s career.

“If I could be part of that again and defend that title with this team, that would be incredible. But I’d also like to sign off on my own terms.

“There are a lot of players that don’t get to sign off on their own terms. For me, I’d like to say farewell to the game in my own significant way. I want to pay homage to the game that has given me so much in my life, which would be a good way for me to say thank you to rugby.

“If I’m not selected, it will be tough.


“But I know that at the end of this year, I’m done, and I’ve got a few months to give it my everything, and I won’t hold back. I’m going to push as hard as I can.

“There is still some fight in me, and I won’t take it easy on the guys challenging in my position.”

From Ireland to Bellville

Vermeulen is considering joining the local Durbell Rugby Club in the Durbanville and Bellville region to qualify for the Rugby World Cup selection.

“I believe you need to be affiliated with a club to play in the Rugby World Cup, and I’ve asked the Springbok management if I could be affiliated with Durbell, the rugby club that is a block away from my home.

“I was offered an extension on my contract with Ulster, but I had a good chat with my wife and said I can only play rugby for so long.

“There comes a stage in your life when you need to take a step back. I’ve got two boys growing up and I’ve missed out on a lot of family things. So I wanted to come home and be with my family.”

And much like missing his family in the time he has been overseas, Vermeulen says he’s also missed his Springbok family.

“When you’re away from the Springboks and you’re not in the mix anymore you miss that feeling.

“It’s very special and you can’t really explain it to anybody. It’s something you always want to be a part of. And I like to think I’m always learning more and becoming a better player every day.

“There are always new tricks of the trade that you pick up in your career. That’s why I’ve really enjoyed playing rugby abroad because you pick up on different styles and you can bring it back.

“I truly believe I can still make a difference on and off the field for the Springboks.”

By Michael Vlismas 

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