Duane ‘won’t lead with mouth’

2015-01-16 12:57
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)

Hermanus – Leadership by inspiration rather than pronounced vocal energy ... that is what Duane Vermeulen, newly-appointed Stormers captain for 2015, intends to bring to the role in Super Rugby.

Coach Allister Coetzee, in making the announcement at a training camp here on Friday, also revealed to Sport24 why Schalk Burger, so often his preferred choice as skipper when fitness has allowed in recent years, was overlooked for the latest campaign.

Well-entrenched Springbok No 8 Vermeulen, 28, has led the franchise in a caretaker capacity before, and believes the full-time post “won’t be that much different”.

He said: “It’s nice to be in the role and I want to thank the coaches for their confidence in me. I prefer actions to words, so that’s what you’ll mostly get from me.

“There are plenty of other guys around me who can contribute to the on-field talking too. I know what Juan (de Jongh, revealed as his deputy) did with the Currie Cup last year, so there’s a great leader alongside me in getting the best out of this team.

“I really just want to focus on the game; the team comes first. You’ve got to (address) what’s outside that environment, but really it’s about you and the team working together. I will handle those (other) matters as they come up.

“I’m happy where I am, and want to make the guys proud all around me.”

Vermeulen, who had a particularly exhausting 2014 at all levels, conceded that he was not yet back to optimum personal fitness after a necessary “good month off”.

“I didn’t do post-season camps, so that helped me a lot. I feel ready now mentally, though physically not 100 percent there yet, but I will be at that point when I lead out the team (in the competition, starting against the Bulls at Loftus on February 14).”

Would he spend more time analysing referees, given his new task? “When Juan captained the side to Currie Cup success last year, he gave lots of responsibility to leaders in the group and he gave freedom to chat to refs.

“We’ve built good relations with some of the refs and hopefully can carry that into the latest season.

“I don’t believe there’s a ref I have a problem with, or has a problem with me; it’s just a question of getting to know each other on the field.”

Asked whether he had any long-standing heroes or role models in captaincy, the Nelspruit-born competitor replied candidly: “I never really (gave it much thought) because I’ve tended before to see myself more as a really good follower than leader.

“Here in South Africa we’ve had plenty of helluva good captains, guys who’ve made a difference. That’s what I will hope to do; I will also be feeding off Juan who won the Currie Cup with a young, inexperienced team.” 

Coach Coetzee said the composition of the leadership duo had been “a very easy decision to make: both these guys are quality Boks and true professionals. They have earned the respect among their peers out there. They know the game, have passion for the game.

“We have the right mix with these two: Duane’s personality ... he is a structured guy, with a no-nonsense approach. Juan has lots of bubbly energy, brings a lovely vibe to the team. They complement each other very well.”

Regarding former captain Burger, Coetzee told Sport24: “Yes, it was a difficult one. But Schalk is still in Japan, possibly until early March.

“It’s important to have your leaders here right from the start, in pre-season camp. Scalla’s always a great guy to bank on with his huge experience later in the season, and when he’s needed.

“(But) you want your leaders immediately plotting the way forward and driving the culture in the team. It’s the right decision, but great to be able to fall back on a player of Schalk’s calibre when he returns.”

*Coetzee revealed that the Stormers are pursuing an additional player at wing, and hope to make an announcement next week, a situation perhaps prompted by Sevens star Seabelo Senatla only being available again towards the end of the Super Rugby roster.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    stormers  |  duane vermeulen  |  rugby

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