Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
18 Nov 2021
7:12 am

Bok loose forwards brace for England battle

Ross Roche

“They are in good form and it is going to be a great battle for us," says Duane Vermeulen.

Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen during a training session on their UK tour. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

A massive loose forward battle is on the cards when the Springboks take on England in their final end-of-year tour match at Twickenham on Saturday, with five of the six loose forwards facing each other for the first time since the 2019 World Cup final.

Eighthman Duane Vermeulen and openside flank Siya Kolisi are expected to come head to head with Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Courtney Lawes who played in that final and were the loose trio against Australia this past weekend, while blindside flank Kwagga Smith is the only new face in the mix.

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“Curry, Underhill and Lawes all played in 2019, so coming up against those guys again is exciting. They are really good at the breakdown and it’s going to be a difficult task for us,” admitted Vermeulen.

“They are in good form currently and it is going to be a great battle for us. But we as a loose trio are trying to keep it simple, play as consistent as we can and keep building on what we have done during the week and how we performed in the previous game.”

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Smith has been a bit of a revelation recently at blindside, putting in some superb performances for the Boks, and he seems to have made the jersey his own in the absence of the injured Pieter-Steph du Toit, after he and Franco Mostert were both tested in the position earlier in the season.

“He is a good runner with the ball, he is quick at the breakdown, he has a very high work rate on and off the ball, and it is good to have him on the pitch ,” Vermeulen said.

Kwagga Smith passes the ball during a Springbok training session. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

“So it is really good to be playing with him and his combo with Siya is great, while I work a bit more with the tight five,” Vermeulen added.

“We also have a very strong group of guys who are backing us up, who can fill those spots if needed, which is important.”