SHIZUOKA – Powerful South Africa number eight Duane Vermeulen is itching to tackle one of his role-models in Italy captain Sergio Parisse when the sides meet in a must-win Rugby World Cup Pool B encounter at the Shizuoka Stadium on Friday.
Parisse, a veteran of 141 caps and a key player when Italy stunned the Springboks with a historic 20-18 victory in 2016, will be Vermeulen’s opposite number at the back of the scrum and their battle could be among the most eye-catching in the game.
Vermeulen did not play in the defeat three years ago in Firenze, but knows all too well the qualities of Parisse as both sides seek to take a massive step towards a quarter-final place.
"You want to beat your opposite number, but also make sure the team wins," Vermeulen told reporters.
"I want to do my individual work well that has been set out for me to do. But he is a fantastic player and to be in your fifth World Cup is a massive achievement for a man that I really look up to."