But Bok coach Rassie Erasmus wants to ease him into international rugby at fullback, and now he gets his big chance on Saturday, with Willie le Roux unavailable as the match falls outside the official Test window.
As expected, Vermeulen is back in the Bok side after missing the Rugby Championship, but it will be at No 7, with Warren Whiteley slotted in at No 8 in place of the unavailable Francois Louw from the team that lost 32-30 to the All Blacks in Pretoria.
Vermeulen’s selection sees Pieter-Steph du Toit wearing the No 5 jersey, as Franco Mostert is settling in at new club
Sbu Nkosi is back from injury at right wing, taking over from the French-based Cheslin Kolbe – who is also affected by the official window rules.
In another big call by Erasmus, Ivan van Zyl will look to get the Bok backline going, with Embrose Papier once again on the bench.
The Bok coach made some interesting choices on the bench as well, with Thomas du Toit the back-up loosehead prop ahead of Trevor Nyakane, while two locks in RG Snyman and Lood de Jager are including – meaning no place for Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
André Esterhuizen was also preferred as the outside back reserve instead of Gio Aplon.
15 Damian Willemse 14 Sbu Nkosi 13 Jesse Kriel 12 Damian de Allende 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi 10 Handré Pollard 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Warren Whiteley 7 Duane Vermeulen 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Frans Malherbe 2 Malcolm Marx 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi 17 Thomas du Toit 18 Wilco Louw 19 RG Snyman 20 Lood de Jager 21 Embrose Papier 22 Elton Jantjies 23 André Esterhuizen.