Cape Town - Springbok hooker Schalk Brits admits they will feel the absence of Duane Vermeulen in the Rugby Championship but is confident that the team will be able to fill the void.
EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with Bok hooker Schalk Brits
Vermeulen, who was a star for the Springboks in their 2-1 series win over England this month, recently announced that he would not be available for the team in this year’s Rugby Championship.
The burly No 8 will head for Japan where he has signed a deal with the Kubota Spears.
Brits, who was part of the Springbok squad for the England series, told Sport24 in an exclusive interview that while Vermeulen’s absence may be felt, the team will cope under Siya Kolisi’s leadership.
“Duane is an asset to any team he is involved with due to his quality as a player and person. He will be missed on and off the pitch during the Rugby Championship. He will be a massive loss to the national team but it gives opportunity for other players to perform,” Brits said.
“The Springboks are blessed in that they produce a plethora of inspirational leaders and Siya Kolisi is the right man for the job. I’m looking forward to witnessing how he grows as a captain at international level.”
Kolisi became the first black Test captain of the Springboks during the England series.
Brits added: “It was a fantastic day at Ellis Park to see the first black African Test captain lead South Africa. Many people were waiting for that moment for a long time. However, if you take colour out of the equation, Siya has been an unbelievable captain for the Stormers and, having been involved with him in the last few weeks, he was a great leader on and off the pitch. As most leaders do, Siya enjoys a strong support base and everyone was backing him up during the series. Duane’s experience will be missed but the Boks are being led by a great man in Siya.”
A fit-again Warren Whiteley is likely to come into the fray at No 8 in place of Vermeulen.
Whiteley is also a former Springbok captain.