Duane Vermeulen: Rainbow Cup on Bulls players’ minds, not Bok squad announcement
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CAPE TOWN – While Duane Vermeulen says he hasn’t been in contact with his friends in the Stormers side this week, his own Bulls teammates are not thinking of national selection ahead of Friday’s Rainbow Cup SA clash at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kickoff).
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will name his first 45-man squad for the two Tests against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions series on Saturday night, and there are several candidates in the Bulls side that will aim to impress the national selectors one last time against the Stormers.
Vermeulen is sure to be among the 45 names read out by SA Rugby president Mark Alexander, but there is a danger that other candidates may become individualistic and move away from the Bulls game plan.
The Bok No 8, though, believes that his players will overcome that potential problem. “You’ve still got to stick with your game plan. There are bigger things to work for, but if you stay within your structure and you play well within your team structures, then you won’t get overlooked,” Vermeulen said from Loftus on Thursday.
“For some guys, it’s a more personal thing, and for other guys, there are bigger things. We are still playing in a competition, so for us at the Bulls, the Rainbow Cup is the first thing you are looking at. Then after that, you take it as it goes.”
Vermeulen used to play for the Stormers, and is close with a number of their top Boks – such as Frans Malherbe – but added that there wasn’t much banter between him and the Capetonians this week.
But the 34-year-old is excited about the prospect of playing alongside Bok teammate Marcell Coetzee, who will make his Bulls debut against the Stormers.
“I didn’t speak to any of the Stormers guys – except when we were in the Bok camp. I only spoke to Frans about our weight! That’s the only thing, but nothing about the game on Friday,” Vermeulen said.
“(Marcell Coetzee) is a good ball-carrier. He plays to the ball and is actually a well-rounded guy – he carries, tackles well, defends well. He plays to the ball on the ground, so he’s a busy character. And I must say that I am looking forward to playing alongside him again.
“He’s got great energy on the field. It’s also a guy that takes charge of everything. It’s nice having a guy like Elrigh (Louw) playing with us, as he learn a lot from Marcell as well. I’m not the only guy that can help them, and Marcell can back me up with certain decisions on the field.”