VIDEO: Why ThorMeulen now has 'coaching ambitions'
Daniel Johannes Vermeulen, more affectionately known as Duane or ThorMeulen, has had a change of heart.
After spending last week’s humbling 8-13 World Cup loss to Ireland in the coaches’ box, he still prefers to be on the field playing.
However, he is beginning to lean towards a role in coaching once his playing days formally come to an end.
It was reported in the South African media recently that Vermeulen, 37, is earmarked to take over the role of the Springboks’ defence coach when Jacques Nienaber leaves for Ireland and a coaching role with Leinster after the World Cup.
Vermeulen, who will play on the blindside flank in South Africa’s final Pool B match against Tonga in Marseille on Sunday, admitted he would be interested in ‘helping younger players.
“If you asked me this a couple of years ago, I probably would have said no,” he told @rugby365com, after thinking about it for a few moments.
“I think [about it] now, when you finish, you think like you want to give back to the younger guys,” the 72-times capped Bok veteran added.
“There are some things you can give [teach] to the younger guys.
“If the opportunity arises and there’s a possibility, I would love to stay in the game and help the younger guys.
“You don’t know where life takes you.
“I love this game and it’s difficult to step away once you’ve been in this long – it’s been 19 years playing as a professional.
“It’s been a good ride and it’s not the end yet.
“Hopefully there’s more to come.”
He admitted that spending the match against Ireland next to the coaching staff in the box was a new and daunting experience.
“It was crazy,” he said with a grin on his face, adding: “As coach Jacques [Nienaber] said, they allow players to sit in team meetings and coaches meetings.
“Everyone is welcome to sit in these meetings.
“They also allow some players to sit in the coaches’ box during games.
“It brings you a different perspective to the game as a player.
“Players think about the game differently than coaches during this specific time.
“For us [players], it is a nice dynamic.
“It makes us learn a little bit.
“They see how we might think about the game.
“[Against Ireland] we had our opportunities, we also knew what we wanted to do and achieve.
“It is nice to be up there.
“It is also daunting to be up there, but I enjoyed it.
“It was good fun.”
He admitted he would much rather be on the pitch than in the coaches’ box.
(WATCH as veteran South African loose forward Duane Vermeulen explains to @king365ed what changed his mind about taking up coaching after finishing his playing career…)
“I love it, that is the most important thing. That is what it is all about.”
Asked what were the most ‘surprising’ aspects of being in the coaches’ box, he said not being able to do anything about what happens on the field.
“When you are on the pitch you are still part of the game,” he said, adding: “You can still change the outcome of the game.
“At the top [in the coaches’ box] you give the players the info that you want, what you see.
“It is still up to the players on the field.
“That is the difficult part of being a coach.
“It is quite daunting up there, but also enjoyable.”
Nienaber played down having Vermeulen in the coaches’ box, saying it is not something new.
“I can’t say if he [Vermeulen] is preparing for the future,” the coach said in his media briefing this past Friday.
“It’s not the first time that we have had a player in the box.
“It’s good for us as coaches to sometimes have a player [there], because they give us a different perspective of how our communication is within the team.
“They get a sense of the sometimes frustration that coaches are under in a coaches’ box.
“That grows them as a player.
“Our coaches’ meeting starts at 07.00 in the morning – any player can join that.”
Nienaber added that if ‘something sensitive’ – like team selection – comes up, they will excuse the player or players from the meeting.
Vermeulen, who has played for Toulon, Kubota Spears and Ulster, outside South Africa, is not just going to walk away from the game anytime soon.
Nienaber said Vermeulen’s role within the squad offered up a great degree of versatility, comparing him to former Bok flanker Francois Louw.
“Duane’s role, if you look back to 2019, the best way to describe it is a Francois Louw role,” the coach said.
“He’s a guy that can start, that can play a Test match for you, but he’s also a guy that’s got a lot of experience and he adds his wealth of knowledge into the group.
“Not saying that he can’t start. Look at Francois Louw, the contribution he made in that semi-final (in 2019) for us, to get a penalty in the 76th minute.
“Big moments, big roles, been there before – Vermeulen’s probably in that mould, but if there’s an injury and he has to start and play the whole game, he’s more than fit and good enough to do that.”