Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)
Birmingham - South African Rugby Player of the Year for 2014, Duane Vermeulen, can’t wait to get stuck in when the Springboks face Samoa in a crucial Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Birmingham on Saturday.
Vermeulen had surgery to his neck in July and worked incredibly hard to get back to full fitness. He has been included at No 8 to face the Samoan challenge this weekend and is keen to get back on the field.
“It’s been an amazing journey from when I injured my neck in June until now,” said Vermeulen.
“My goal was always to make it to the Rugby World Cup and the doctors told me that I could make it if I worked hard.
“That moment has now arrived and I can’t wait to play on Saturday. It’s been wonderful to be back training again with my team-mates, and not run on my own next to the field, but now the next step is to get back into the game.
“I put a lot of very hard work in over the last three months, and our medical staff deserves a lot of credit for helping me with my rehabilitation.
“It’s been tough but I can’t wait to get out on the pitch, where I belong. All I want to do is make the guys around me proud, play to the best of my ability and contribute to a team effort.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer lauded Vermeulen for his attitude.
“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 Springbok coach
Kick-off on Saturday afternoon is at 17:45 (SA time).
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jesse Kriel
15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Ray Lee-Lo, 11
Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Mike Stanley, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus
(captain), 7 Jack Lam, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Iosefa Tekori, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3
Anthony Perenise, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Sakaria Taulafo
Ole Avei, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Faifili Levave, 20
Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 George Pisi