Jano Vermaak chats to Sport24

    2015-05-29 12:48

    Grant Shub

    Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, departing Toulouse scrumhalf JANO VERMAAK discusses his move to Cape Town, his Rugby World Cup dream and the Stormers' chances heading into the playoffs.

    Sport24 asked: You have penned a two-and-a-half year contract with Western Province Rugby effective from July 1. What excites you about this new chapter in your career?

    Jano Vermaak: I’ve enjoyed two memorable seasons at Toulouse, but I can’t wait to return to South Africa and continue my playing career in Cape Town. Newlands has always been one of my favourite grounds to play at owing to the awesome atmosphere and support. I like the style of play the side employs and must say it’s quite similar to our game strategy at Toulouse. Both teams favour a running game, but if they can’t make metres on attack, they tend to implement a kicking game. The Stormers may be regarded as a defence-orientated side, but I’ve watched a few of their matches this season and they look to attack the space.

    Sport24 asked: You had a couple of options when it came to teams after your services in South Africa. Who was the other interested party and why did you decide on WP?

    Jano Vermaak: The Sharks were the other South African team keen on acquiring my signature. They wanted me to come over early to play Super Rugby, but I couldn’t get an early release owing to my ongoing commitments in France – we are playing against Oyonnax in the Top 14 quarterfinal on Saturday. I will link up with Western Province in time to play Currie Cup rugby and will have to wait until 2016 to play Super Rugby for the Stormers. I opted for Province because they are a young team that boasts an abundance of talent.

    Sport24 asked: You have said, "I’m returning to South Africa with the goal of giving myself a chance of possibly getting into the World Cup squad.” Why would it mean so much?

    Jano Vermaak: It has always been a dream of mine to play for the Springboks and to partake in a World Cup would be a massive honour. If I don’t play in the World Cup, it’s not the end of the world – I can always set my sights on the Rugby Championships and the end-of-year tour – but I’m coming back to South Africa to give myself a chance of World Cup selection. I have met with Heyneke Meyer, and what he expects from me is a sound tactical kicking game, crisp service to the flyhalf and the ability to control the backs, as well as the forwards.

    Sport24 asked: What elements have you added to your game since playing up north?

    Jano Vermaak: I have learned to adapt my playing style to suit the weather conditions. We tend to play a lot in wet weather here, and I have honed my control, passing and kicking accuracy. When the ball is wet and slippery, as a scrumhalf you have to be able to play closer to the forwards and be more conservative. However, when conditions allow for a more expansive game, I pride myself on my swift service to the flyhalf. I have enjoyed the privilege of partnering both Luke McAlister and Toby Flood at the club, and the pair are world-class players. McAlister is more of an attacking ten, whereas Flood is more tactical.

    Sport24 asked: Gert Smal has said, “Jano is a great team man and he will pass on all his experience to our younger number nines.” Are you keen to assume a more senior role?

    Jano Vermaak: For sure. At the age of 30, I have some experience which I would like to pass on to the younger players coming through the ranks at Western Province. My advice to them would be to always work hard, stay grounded and remain positive in times when the game doesn’t go your way. My ability to keep calm under pressure in a match situation comes down to the preparation I do during the week. Completing my personal preparation early in the week puts me in a confident headspace heading into a match. I believe that if you put in the hard work during the week, you will reap the rewards come the weekend.

    Sport24 asked: Fourie du Preez is rated as the best scrumhalf of his generation. Why?

    Jano Vermaak: Fourie’s ability to read the game is second to none. Having worked with him at Springbok level, I’ve really been impressed with the way in which he analyses the game. He also has an aura around him, and his experience and execution makes him a great player.

    Sport24 asked: Poor refereeing performance has proved a feature of Super Rugby this season, but is it true that the standard of refereeing in the Top 14 is even worse?

    Jano Vermaak: The standard of refereeing in France is lower than in South Africa. Back in South Africa, all the referees are professional, however, some of the referees here are semi-professional. It’s fair to say that in France the referees tend to favour the home sides more often and, as such, you have to be even more up for it and you have to bring your A game.

    Sport24 asked: How would you compare and contrast French and South African coaches?

    Jano Vermaak: The rugby coach in France takes on more of a managerial role, similar to soccer, and has two assistants working for him. Managers are less hands-on and largely rely on their assistants to do the most of the on-field work. Guy Noves, who is set for the France job post-World Cup, gives us motivational speeches before a match. South African coaches are definitely calmer than their French counterparts, but still have the passion for the game.

    Sport24 asked: How will the home nations fare during the 2015 World Cup in England?

    Jano Vermaak: I wouldn’t write off either England or France, but Ireland are most definitely serious contenders. They showed on the 2014 end-of-year tour that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Their physicality at the breakdown has proved a feature of their play, and last November they dominated the Springboks at ruck time. The Irish are also a very tactical side and their 9-10 combination has always worked well for them. I believe that if your kicking game is on song, you are going to be a competitive team at the World Cup.

    Sport24 asked: The South African conference is now a three-horse race. As a former Lion, Bull and soon-to-be Stormer, which team are you tipping to make the playoffs and why?

    Jano Vermaak: I’m backing the Stormers, because they have senior heads and awesome youngsters emerging. As a team, they must just believe in themselves, keep ball possession and stick to their structures of play in order to make the playoffs and challenge for the title.


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