Springbok players, and South Africa as a country, might have to come to terms with the idea that the British and Irish Lions tour may take place in the United Kingdom, said star Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen.
As Bulls captain, the 33-year-old Vermeulen led his team to the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup double and was on Thursday named as the 2020 SA Rugby Player of the Year, as the Bulls predictably dominated the awards.
“It is actually difficult to give my thoughts because we would love the British and Irish Lions to tour SA,” said Vermeulen.
“You only get them touring here every 12 years and I think for our economy and that amount of tourists coming into our country and spending money, it would have been fantastic,” he said.
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However, the Covid situation in South Africa makes it almost impossible, with fans still not allowed at the stadiums, while the vaccination programme in the UK is much further advanced than here.
“It would be a pity if it doesn’t happen in SA, but we need to adapt and in the past two years we have already adapted to a whole lot of different scenarios that the pandemic has thrown at us.
“If it happens and we have to go and play there, we can’t really do anything about it.”
Vermeulen said it was important right now to just prepare well and go out and play the game.
“We haven’t played any Test rugby for so long and I think if anything can be arranged, it doesn’t matter where we play, we must just make it happen,” he added.
“As long as we play it would be a great positive for SA Rugby and our people.”
Vermeulen also picked up a second award on Thursday – the Super Rugby/Unlocked Player-of-the-Year,
Bulls coach Jake White was named Coach of the Year, Cornal Hendricks as Currie Cup Player of the Year and Stedman Gans as Sevens Player of the Year.
The only non-Bulls awards went to the Wandisile Simelane (Lions), the Young Player of the Year and Jaco Peyper as Referee of the Year.
“With Jake coming in at the Bulls he said he wanted a certain standard and if he didn’t have the right players, he would get them,” said Vermeulen.
Vermeulen added that while they (the Bulls) were initially part of the chasing pack, they now had to get used to being chased themselves.
“Jake got it spot-on with a lot of the things he wanted to get right and change, and strives to get us to be the best team – and player – we can be,” he said.