Springboks

Special homecoming for Duane

2014-06-18 08:57
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)

Mbombela - Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen will be hoping for a special performance against Wales when he makes his homecoming appearance in Mbombela on Saturday.

Playing in his 18th Test in the green and gold, Vermeulen missed out on the first ever Springbok match played in the Mpumalanga capital, against Scotland last year, because of injury.

The 28-year-old would return to the place where he took his first steps on the rugby field as a barefoot young boy.

"I missed out last year, so hopefully I can get a good start this weekend. I grew up here and I know most of the people and it's nice to hear and see that the people are coming out in their numbers to watch this Test and I'm just looking forward to it," Vermeulen said on Tuesday.

"It's a massive occasion but hopefully it turns out to be a good one."

On the team's arrival at the airport in the Lowveld on Sunday, Vermeulen was surprised to receive a warm welcome from his grandparents Daan and Lourencia Robbertse. Driving into the city, posters on lamp posts proclaimed the people of Mbombela - formerly known as Nelspruit - were Vermeulen's greatest fans.

He would count on some special support from the main stand at the Mbombela Stadium where mother Estelien was assembling a brigade of 109 friends and family members to cheer on her son.

While facing some of the toughest opponents in world rugby was no longer new to Vermeulen, it remained a nerve-racking experience for his mother.

"The stress started from a young age - at Bulletjie rugby level - and it never ends," Estelien said.

"It is getting better, because when he first toured overseas and he got injured, I just wanted to get onto a plane and go to him."

Estelien said on Tuesday she knew Duane had had the potential to play rugby at the highest level and she was proud to watch him appearing in the city where it all began.

"He's been playing from Bulletjie rugby level where he was playing bare feet. He went from Laerskool Nelspruit and Hoerskool Nelspruit to the Pumas, the Cheetahs and onto the Stormers," she said.

Vermeulen suffered a serious knee injury three years ago which kept him out of contention for the Springbok squad at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

However, he did not have to wait much longer before making his Test debut against Australia in Perth on September 8, 2012.

The influential loose forward again suffered a knee injury on the Stormers' tour of Australasia in 2013 which ruled him out for the June internationals.

Vermeulen made a powerful return during last year's Rugby Championship and had since taken ownership of the No 8 jersey.

While it seemed unlikely any other player would wrest his starting position away from him any time soon, Vermeulen remained humble in his assessment of his performances at No 8.

"It's easy to get here, it's difficult to stay here - you're never safe," he said.

"You've got to pitch up with that mindset - that you want to be the best and stay in this spot - and not think about losing your place."

NEXT ON SPORT24X

Dick Muir chats to Sport24

2014-07-25 15:14

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
38 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • SS3
    Fri, 25 Jul 2014 @04:00
  • SS4:
    Fri, 25 Jul 2014 @05:00
  • SS5:
    Fri, 25 Jul 2014 @06:00
  • Blitz
    Fri, 25 Jul 2014 @07:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will win this year's Rugby Championship?

 
 
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.