Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen revealed that he has joined the Bulls because he believes his enormous experience can make a difference for a young team in this season’s Super Rugby competition.
The 32-year-old Vermeulen, who has started all 46 of his Tests for South Africa, has played extensively in Europe while representing Toulon 68 times and has just returned from his first stint in Japan with Kubota Spears, and the Bulls will be hoping he brings the steel that will enable them to win all the close games they lost last year.
“I never thought that you would see me in a Bulls jersey, even though I grew up this side of the country (in Nelspruit), so it’s funny how life turns out. But the Bulls were the first to reach out to me with a good offer and I thought it was the right thing to do, because Thelo Wakefield (former Western Province Rugby Union president) said the Stormers did not want to get experienced players back, they wanted to build with their youngsters, so you accept that and move on.
“I think I can contribute to a young group at the Bulls, they’re a good bunch of guys and a good group of players, but they lack experience in certain areas.
“I just want to play and contribute and I have experience from all over the world that I’d like to share with the younger guys. It’s a long competition and I’d like to leave a bit of myself here at Loftus,” Vermeulen said after his first training session in Pretoria.
With so much expectation swirling around Loftus Versfeld, even before the 18 weeks of round-robin play have started, as well as the added distraction of it being a World Cup year, Vermeulen is already preaching the importance of staying in the moment.
“We have to take it step by step, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to start well, win our first match on February 16 (against his old team, the Stormers) and then build from there.
“There’s always some pressure in rugby and some guys can just handle it, but the only way to build is for the youngsters just to make the most of every opportunity they get.
“We have a big bunch of players that have played for the Springboks and there’s opportunity for new guys to do that as well, but they need to show from the start that they can play the style of rugby that makes them the players
they are, we’re not going to win by playing a different brand of rugby to what makes us good,” Vermeulen said.
- The Bulls have suffered a major injury blow with the news on Monday that Springbok lock RG Snyman will be out of action for eight weeks after injuring his ankle in Japan and requiring surgery