Duane Vermeulen could be making a move North as he looks for a club after his return from France. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
The Bulls are set to make some big-name acquisitions in the coming weeks with Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen their prime target.

The 31-year-old Vermeulen is without a club after his three year stint at French Top 14 giants Toulon came to an end recently, with speculation rife that he would return to his previous employers in the Stormers and Western Province.

But with the Cape Town franchise and union engulfed with financial difficulties and legal battles, it is increasingly looking improbable that they would be able to afford the hefty price-tag that comes with a player of Vermeulen’s stature.

However, rumours from Vermeulen’s camp are that the abrasive Springbok loose forward is interested in plying his trade in the capital where there is a realistic chance of winning Super Rugby in the not-too-distant future, and also the chance to play under former All Blacks coach John Mitchell.

Mitchell took charge of the Bulls Super Rugby side this season and even though the results have not entirely gone their way, public sentiment and that of rugby pundits is that there has been a marked improvement in the Bulls playing style and that they will certainly be title contenders in the next season or two.

Vermeulen would be the perfect fit for the Bulls, who are still without a recognised number eight in their Super Rugby squad, while his vast experience and leadership skills will also prove valuable to the three time Super Rugby champions.

If the Bulls are able to secure Vermeulen’s signature, it will be a major coup for the Loftus Versfeld-based franchise with Vermeulen yet again proving his worth in the Springbok's series win against England which included an outstanding man-of-the-match performance in the second Test in Bloemfontein.

Besides Vermeulen, the Bulls also have their sights set on Springbok props Ox Nche and Frans Malherbe, while there could also be a bid for Durban-based Springbok flank Jean-Luc du Preez.

Lions and former Junior Springbok loose forward Cyle Brink is likely to cross the Jukskei River and is expected to also sign for the Bulls and join the Pretoria kraal at the end of the year.

The 24-year-old Brink is highly regarded with his ability to play in any position in the loose trio and having made his Super Rugby debut two years ago, the former KES pupil will certainly beef up the injury-depleted loose-forward stocks at the Bulls.

The Blue Bulls Company currently have their hands tied behind their backs and cannot confirm or deny the likely acquisition of the players as regulation only allows them to speak to prospective players at the beginning of July.

But BBC High Performance manager Xander Janse Van Rensburg confirmed they will be going to market to beef up their player resources and didn’t count out their interest in players like Vermeulen, Malherbe, Nche and Brink if they are available and fall within their budget.

“Obviously we would like players of that quality. At the moment we can’t really do anything and have to wait for next month. We are looking at a few prospects and in due time we will make announcements,” said Janse Van Rensburg.


Sunday Independent 

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