Garrin Lambley

Duane Vermeulen next Bok skipper? Why?

2016-11-28 15:02
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)

While the future of Springbok coach Allister Coetzee remains undecided, one thing is however for certain, the team needs a new captain.

Due to the peculiar mid-season revelation that Adriaan Strauss would retire from the international scene at the end of the year (but continue to play for the Bulls), a new candidate to lead the Green & Gold in 2017 - and beyond - is required.

Sadly, the candidates are few and far between.

Much has been made about Toulon-based Duane Vermeulen taking over the reins, but let's ponder that selection for a moment.

Vermeulen was well below his best (by his own admission) in the Test and a half he played against Ireland in June, before picking up an elbow injury.

A further knee injury sustained while playing for his French Top 14 side Toulon ruled the burly No 8 out of this year's Rugby Championship.

Vermeulen then, according to Coetzee, turned down the chance to play for South Africa because "his reputation took a bit of a knock" in that Ireland series.

So, it's a case of Vermeulen first, Springboks second, then?

Coetzee then threw in that age-old excuse of "Vermeulen's wife is expecting a baby" (which to the best of my knowledge still hasn't happened and hasn't stopped him from playing for Toulon on the same weekends the Boks were in action on their end of year tour).

Side-note, All Blacks hooker Dane Coles' wife did actually give birth, amid the devastating earthquakes in New Zealand, while her star hooker husband was training and playing for the All Blacks in Europe. Matches missed? Zero.

All this in addition to the bombshell Vermeulen dropped during last year's Super Rugby, when, while recovering from a neck injury, he jumped on a flight to France to thrash out a deal to move to Toulon without even informing his Stormers employers!

While, when on form, there's no doubting the capabilities of 30-year-old Vermeulen, is this really acceptable behaviour from the player we want leading the country into battle? Someone who clearly puts his own best interests before those of the national team (and provincial union)?

At the same "review" of the Springboks' annus horribilis scheduled for Friday, December 9 where Coetzee's future is expected to be decided, SA Rugby will rule on the selection of overseas-based players.

Currently the rule is that no overseas-based player will be considering as captain. Should that rule remain in place, Vermeulen would need to return to South Africa.

Will the WPRU welcome him back with open arms? Will the WPRU even have enough money to pay him, considering their controversial application for liquidation in recent weeks?!

It's a massive investment - and risk - to place so much stock in one player turning around the fortunes of the nation.

Whatever the identity of the Springbok coach come that first Test against France on June 10, 2017, he'll need to appoint a skipper he has the utmost faith in.

That's a Handre Pollard or Warren Whiteley for me, certainly not Monsieur Vermeulen...

Garrin Lambley is Editor of Sport24...

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Read more on:    springboks  |  duane vermeulen  |  rugby


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