Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Why Bok bosses picked Vermeulen to lead Boks against Wallabies

Jasper Wiese is the Boks' first choice eighthman, which means that Vermeulen could be expected to play a dual role this year.

In a major boost to his hopes of making the Springbok squad for the World Cup, Duane Vermeulen was named as captain for the Boks’ opening Rugby Championship match against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

Vermeulen was one of the question marks in the current Bok squad, along with Evan Roos and Marco van Staden, on who would be cut from the group when it is slimmed down for the World Cup.

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So it was a big statement from the Bok management to name him as captain for the Australian match, especially since outside centre Lukhanyo Am was also in the running to captain the side.


This indicates that he has the inside track on the other challengers, despite the fact that Van Staden also starts, and Roos will play off the bench on Saturday.

“In terms of captaincy it wasn’t a tough decision. We know Siya (Kolisi) is our captain and we will have interim captains leading up to the World Cup,” explained Bok coach Jacques Nienaber.

“We are fortunate that we have a lot of good captains within the side. Duane is one who has captained South Africa before, but we have multiple good leaders here (in the squad).

“We are happy with Duane and the leadership that he gives. We know him. He is a cool, calm head with a lot of experience so it wasn’t a difficult decision (to make).”

Proximity to ref

SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus also weighed in on the decision, explaining that the proximity of a player to the ref during a match is something that they take into account.

“People might not agree with us but we tend to feel that someone who is close to the referee is better suited to be the captain. The referee is never standing in the backline when a scrum or lineout is being formed,” said Erasmus.

“Communication and respect that we want to show the referees are things we are trying to rectify and get right. So the closer the captain is to the referee will be beneficial, not just to communicate but also to listen and understand what he says, as well as the other way round.

“So having a loose forward or a nine is always a nice position to be a captain.”

Jasper Wiese

Jasper Wiese is the Boks’ first choice eighthman, which means that Vermeulen could be expected to play a dual role, of either an impact player off the bench or starter if needed as they look towards the World Cup.

“I think he can definitely play both roles. But we do have Jasper who is playing well so it will probably go on performance who will start or not,” admitted Nienaber.

An interesting combination for the Wallabies game also sees Manie Libbok get his second start for the Boks, paired with scrumhalf Cobus Reinach.

“We are looking forward to give Manie a little bit of a go and start him again. Obviously he was good last time out (against England) and I think the combination of Manie and Cobus will be quite an exciting one.”