Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett believes Pierre Spies will find it tough to return to the Bok starting team with Duane Vermeulen the incumbent No 8.In an interview with Die Burger's website, the former Bok mentor said Vermeulen's performance for the Springboks in the recently completed Rugby Championship was highly impressive.Mallett said Vermeulen could become as good as All Black No 8 Kieran Read."I think Duane has the ability to get to Read's level. Read is currently the world's best eighthman because he is so skillful with ball in hand, irrespective of all his other qualities."(But) Duane has really emerged as South Africa's top eighthman. He proved the notion wrong that he is not quick and skillful."Mallett is also impressed by Vermeulen's ball-poaching ability, his defence and the confidence he portrays on the field, irrespective of the opponent.Vermeulen was the Sharks' nemesis at the breakdown in their Currie Cup clash in Durban last week and was duly rewarded with the Man of the Match accolade.And Mallett - himself a former No 8 - said Spies would find it tough to get back into the Bok team when he returns from injury next year."It will be very tough for Pierre Spies to get back in the Bok team, especially with the 2015 World Cup to be played on heavy fields in England," said Mallett.