Duane Vermeulen says he decided to further his career in Japan months before he rejoined the Springbok setup. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - Springbok eighthman, Duane Vermeulen, has revealed that his decision to play in Japan was made months before he made his international comeback in the series against England.

Vermeulen has joined Kubota Spears following three years with Toulon in the French Top 14, and says he decided to move to Japan in December 2017 with the World Cup in mind. “I needed a change after three years with Toulon,” he told SA Rugby Magazine

“That was a great experience, but I played a hell of a lot. That was really difficult. The opposite is true in Japan, where they don’t play much more than six months of rugby. My stay at Kubota will give me an opportunity to better preserve my body but still give my best for my club, which is non-negotiable to me.

“Experiencing the Japanese culture, the playing style, and the stadiums before the World Cup won’t hurt. It’s actually something crucial. Anybody who is playing in Japan before that tournament will have a bit of an advantage over others who have never experienced the conditions.”

The news that Vermeulen chose to move to Japan before rejoining the Springbok setup comes shortly after World Cup-winning former Springbok coach, Jake White, criticised current coach Rassie Erasmus for allowing Vermeulen to skip the Rugby Championship.

In a column on Alloutrugby.com, White wrote that allowing Vermeulen to play in Japan during the Rugby Championship was a sign that Erasmus was not under pressure to win next year’s World Cup. However, Vermeulen said he felt positive about his future with the Boks.

“My journey with the Boks is hopefully far from over. It sounds like a cliche, because every time I have come back to the Boks over the past year or so I have spoken about how I want to be part of a special side. The thing is, I really do believe this,” he said.

“There’s a new head coach (Rassie Erasmus) and coaching staff, and there are a lot of new players in the mix. I feel energised and optimistic about the future of Bok rugby.”

IOL Sport

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