Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Duane Vermeulen’s imminent return to the
run-on side may be good news for the Springboks, and not such good news for the
opposition as he is pining to dish out some hurt at his maiden Rugby World Cup.
Vermeulen, who has been one of the stalwarts in the Bok side
since making his debut in 2012, is fully fit and ready to be let loose after
completing rehabilitation following neck surgery in June.
“In training I wish I can run into a guy but from this week
on everything will fall into place and I can start making contact and still
take it a little bit easy in the breakdown sessions,” Vermeulen said.
“I never quit, I was in a difficult position but with the
guys that are around you and the energy in the squad it is a big motivator.”
The talismanic No 8 is one of the crucial members of the
Springbok side was in a race against time to be fit for the global showpiece.
Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed on Monday that
Vermeulen was eased back into the contact sessions before letting him loose on
“We've been holding Duane back a little bit and we'll
release him when we get to the World Cup,” Roberts said.
Vermeulen said there was a time where he felt his dreams of
playing at his first World Cup would be dashed.
“There was a stage where I felt this is going south but I
got the confidence from the surgeon, who said I would be ready to go and here I
am in a 31-man squad and looking forward to my first World Cup,” he said.
The 29-year-old said the team had come through all the injury
setbacks, and their focus was now on bringing the Webb Ellis Cup back to South
“It doesn’t matter who slots in where, those 23 guys that
represent South Africa will do their utmost to win a game and represent our country, and we want
to go there and win a World Cup,” Vermeulen said.
“Pressure is something you put on yourself, we slot into a
game plan and all we can do is give our best on the field no matter how good
your last performance was.”
Vermeulen believes he will be fighting fit for the Springboks’
opening game against Japan in Brighton on September 19 which would be the ideal
test for his neck.
“Luckily the Japanese aren’t like the Samoans that goes in
high, they tackle nice and low but it would be a good game to make my return,”
“It doesn’t matter what game you get, we are preparing
ourselves for the first game which is Japan and we’ll take it from there.”