|Ulster coach Dan McFarland was smiling broadly on Saturday night, but not only because his side had comprehensively beaten Zebre in their United Rugby Championship encounter. |
McFarland was more happy about the form of his recent signing – Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen a couple of hours before in the Rugby Championship win over the All Blacks.
Vermeulen put in a classic performance, turning over the ball at a crucial time in the dying moments of the game as the Springboks regained their world number one ranking with a win over their arch-rivals.
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“What about that in arguably the biggest match you can get in the international calendar – South Africa against New Zealand,” McFarland said afterwards. “He was pretty impressive wasn’t he.”
Vermeulen will now head to Ulster to hook up with his new team before possibly rejoining the Springboks for their November Tests against Wales, Scotland and England.
Still, while he may not play straight away for Ulster, McFarland had seen enough to be salivating at the prospect of him running out in Belfast for the team.
“He makes the two biggest plays in the last five minutes of the game that turn it in the Springboks’ favour.”
Vermeulen’s signing has been seen as a massive coup for the side, who lost Marcell Coetzee last season to the Bulls and have been searching for a marquee player ever since.
While Vermeulen missed the games against the British and Irish Lions, Saturday’s form showed he is almost back to his best.
Another Springbok who made a big impression on Saturday was lock RG Snyman who scored the try that turned the tide for Munster against the Stormers in Limerick. And his South African coach Johann van Graan was singing his praises afterwards.
“That was a big moment for him and for us,” said Van Graan. “Last week was all about getting back on the pitch after such an extended period (out injured) and this game was about contributing even more.
“That try was one of the reasons why we have him at Munster, to do those type of things. He has a lot more to come but like I said before, he has to keep building his minutes.
“That was a special moment for him tonight to say he has scored his first try for Munster.”
Snyman may well be on the Springboks radar after missing most of the international season and could link up again with the national side ahead of their three test tour of Wales, Scotland and England next month.