Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)
Birmingham - Duane Vermeulen has ignored medical advice just two months after a neck operation and will take his place in the South Africa line-up for Saturday's game against Samoa in the Rugby World Cup at Villa Park.
It is the kind of passionate commitment coach Heyneke Meyer said he would like to see from more of his players.
"I don't want to knock other players, but if everyone had the mental attitude and the desire to play for South Africa that Duane has, we probably wouldn't lose any games," said the coach after naming the burly eighthman in the team for his first World Cup outing.
"Our plan was actually to let him play 20 minutes and then put him into the next game (against Scotland in Newcastle on October 3) but he insisted that he wanted to play, never mind what the medical staff advised.
"He said 'I'm going to play 80 minutes if that's what it's going to take to win'. The whole team needs that mentality if we are going to go forward. It's great to have him back."
Vermeulen was named South Africa's Player of the Year for 2014 but his participation at the World Cup was threatened by the surgery in early July.
He was suffering from a disc bulging onto a nerve root, causing an intense spasm and, after an operation, underwent rehabilitation in order to get fit for the tournament in England.
The 29-year-old has not played since Super Rugby action in May. His last Test for the Springboks was against Wales last November.
"I've played him cold in a situation like this before, against the All Blacks when he had been out for a long time, and he proved to be the man of the match," added Meyer.