Cape Town – If Corne Krige, twice leader in seasons where the Stormers have reached semi-finals, had his way then Duane Vermeulen would be the franchise’s Super Rugby captain in the 2015 season.
Krige, also a former Springbok skipper, suggests an alliance of Vermeulen in charge and WP Currie Cup 2014-winning Juan de Jongh as his vice-captain is the way to go.
Head coach Allister Coetzee is expected to announce his skipper and deputy for the campaign at the end of the squad’s four-day pre-season camp in Hermanus on Friday.
Last season’s leader, Jean de Villiers, is ruled out of the entire Super Rugby programme as he races time to be fit from his serious knee ligament injury to lead South Africa at the UK-staged World Cup later in the year.
The Stormers have also surrendered from their books since 2014 Deon Fourie, the now Lyon-based hooker who has led them before and was Province skipper in the victorious 2012 Currie Cup campaign.
Three most obvious candidates for the important 2015 post come to mind – Vermeulen, De Jongh and Schalk Burger – and Krige admitted to Sport24 on Tuesday that it’s “a pretty tough call” to make.
“Look, you’d like to give the guy (De Jongh) who has just earned Currie Cup success an opportunity, after he has clearly done well in the role.
“But I’d say it’s just a touch too soon for him to go a notch further: Super Rugby is a very different kettle of fish to the domestic competition, with the pressures so much more acute, and maybe Duane is the right fit for the task.
“I do like a player (as captain) who is in the heart of the action in the pack, and particularly among the loose forwards where you have a good sense of the game’s overall flow.
“The skipper also has to be absolutely assured of his place, and with Duane among the world’s best rugby players right now, that is obviously no issue.”
Asked about the veteran Burger’s prospects – he is arguably disadvantaged by the likelihood that he will join the competition a little late from Japanese club commitments – Krige said he was unsure whether the blond dynamo actually aspired to captaincy.
“Schalk obliges willingly whenever asked to hold the reins, but I think his priority this year will simply be to play the best rugby possible and re-cement a place in the side; there are lots of good loose forwards (in the broad Stormers’ squad).
“So Duane and Juan as captain and deputy, the one up front and the other in the backline, could be the right combo for them.”
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