Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

‘Dr Duane Vermeulen’ expects heart-pumping response from All Blacks

The Bok No 8 says switching back on for a clash against the All Blacks is easy.

Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen put on his doctor’s hat at Tuesday’s team announcement press conference to explain the fight he expects from the All Blacks in the second Rugby Championship Test at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Vermeulen will be making his first Bok appearance of the 2022 international season having recovered from minor knee surgery and is expecting a very tough welcome from the struggling visitors.

ALSO READ: Bongi out, Dweba in as Boks forced to change at hooker

“This is the first time in New Zealand’s history that they are number five in the world rankings. That’s one thing that will also push them to the next level come Saturday. It hurts and is difficult to be down like that. But you sometimes have lows to get highs again,” explained Vermeulen.

“It’s like a heartbeat, if you flatline, you’re dead. So I would rather have a heartbeat than flatline. Like the coach said earlier, it’s a massive game for them and they will definitely be up for it.

“Both teams are ready for this game and we will have to be at our best on Saturday to withstand what they are going to bring.”

This video is no longer available.

Return from injury

Talking about his return from injury, Vermeulen admitted he was fully prepared mentally, but that they would have to see how he does physically on the day.

“Mentally you always switch on. It’s international rugby so you have to be switched on. You sit with the coaches, you get a lot of info every day and you work through that,” said Vermeulen.

“So to mentally switch on is probably the easiest part for me because I have been in the game for a number of years. I think the physical thing is what you have to wait and see.

“I haven’t played a game in the past six to eight weeks. We are playing at altitude and I think it will make a difference. But we’ve got a strong group of guys. So I am going to give it my best and see how far I can push myself. Then we’ve got our replacements that can come on.”

Vermeulen also lamented that he had missed out on playing in an incredible clash at the Mbombela Stadium over the past weekend, but was eager to make it up in the coming match.

“I would have loved to play in Nelspruit. Most of the guys know I grew up there, and the atmosphere, vibe, even the halftime show with Jimmy Stonehouse (singing Sweet Caroline) was impressive,” said Vermeulen.

“Sitting on the side and watching the guys play, starting with the anthems, the haka and everything, it just give you goosebumps. You really want to play, you really want to get on that field because the passion for the game is so much within.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t but luckily I get an opportunity this weekend and hopefully I can just give it my best.”

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits