Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Vermeulen set for emotional send off with Boks: ‘I’m relishing the opportunity’

The 63-cap Vermeulen will also be captaining the Boks for the second time this season, after leading the team against the Wallabies.

Springbok legend Duane Vermeulen is preparing himself for what is most likely an emotional send off when he plays what could be his final game for the national team on home soil in their Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Ellis Park on Saturday evening (kick-off 5:05pm).

The 37-year-old Vermeulen has been a stalwart in the Bok setup for over a decade since making his debut back in 2012 and it is largely expected that he will retire from international rugby at the end of the World Cup in France.

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Head coach Jacques Nienaber and assistant coach Felix Jones are also set for their final game with the Boks in SA as both of them will also be moving on after the World Cup.

Captain fantastic

The 63-cap Vermeulen will also be captaining the Boks for the second time this season, having taken the reins in the opening game of the season against Australia, and he will want the focus to be more on the team.

“We have handled this subject within the squad, talking about how for some of our coaches it could possibly be the last game in South Africa with the Springboks. We also mentioned that it might possibly be my last game (for the Boks) in the country,” said Vermeulen.

“It’s just fantastic to get an opportunity to play this weekend and I am relishing it. You put so much into this game for 19 years and you think it will never come to an end.

“But obviously you know when to draw the line and say listen there are some guys who are really stepping up. There is also a family back home that you have missed out on all these years. So it is a bit of an emotional thing.

“But I am still looking forward to it. Obviously the emotion will be there, but it won’t overtake the control and focus on the game that we have tomorrow.”

Mixed results

With it having been a mixed first two games for the Boks this season, after a thumping win over the Wallabies was followed up with a disappointing defeat against the All Blacks, the Boks will be gunning for a strong showing against Argentina.

The Boks have enjoyed a number of strong wins over Los Pumas in the country over the past few years, but they will not be underestimating them this weekend.

“Argentina are a physical side and they have shown that they can play close to a complete game. They have got a good attack, they have strong forwards and they’ve got a massive work rate,” said  Vermeulen.

“We have looked at some of their games and there is no guy in that team that will stand back and give up. They work for what they want and obviously it’s going to be a physical match-up for us.

“We can’t sit back and relax. We also want to perform and we want to finish our last game in South Africa (this year) on a high. The team wants to try and play a complete game. There is still a lot of work for us to do and it’s going to be a tough one.”