PRETORIA – The long wait is finally over for the Bulls as they announced the signing of sort after Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen for next year’s Super Rugby season.
The 32-year-old Vermeulen had long been on the radar of the three times Super Rugby champions, with former coach John Mitchell playing a leading role in luring the robust No 8 to the capital.
While Vermeulen has finally put pen to paper in one of the most lucrative rugby deals in the country, Vermeulen will only link up with the Bulls in February after fulfilling his duties for his Japanese outfit the Kubota Spears.
Vermeulen’s signing is a major coup for the Bulls who managed to outbid interests from bitter rivals the Stormers who Vermeulen had played for prior to his departure to France to join Toulon three years ago.
Even though Mitchell has since left the Bulls to take up a job with the England national team as defence coach, Vermeulen’s arrival at Loftus Versfeld will further beef up the Springbok-laden outfit, and will surely make them amongst the leading teams in next year’s competition.
Vermeulen will bolster and help guide an already impressive string of Springboks at the Bulls, namely Trevor Nyakane, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Ivan van Zyl, Embrose Papier, Handré Pollard, Jesse Kriel and Warrick Gelant.
Wings Jamba Ulengo and Travis Ismaiel have also been capped by the Springboks in the last year.
Besides the Bulls being the obvious beneficiary from Vermeulen’s signing, Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus will also be pleased to have Vermeulen back in the country and playing Super Rugby again.
It is no secret that Vermeulen will be an integral part of Erasmus’ plans for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
And the fact that he will be playing with the bulk of the players that are likely to be in the Springbok squad to Japan will be key in having Vermeulen at the Bulls.
“2019 is going to be a massive year for us, and I’m keen on starting it with an impact at Loftus. The Bulls have always been a team that I have respected, and I’m looking forward to joining the family,” Vermeulen said in a statement.
“Duane is an amazing rugby player, and is well respected around the world. We firmly believe that his abrasive style of play and experience will add immense value to our Super Rugby campaign next year.
“At the age of 32, he is a seasoned veteran, that just gets better with every season,” said Bulls High Performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg.
* Duane Vermeulen has played 42 times for the Springboks and played at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
* Vermeulen has played Super Rugby for the Cheetahs (20 times) and Stormers (89 appearances) and made 68 appearances for Toulon in France.
* Vermeulen was born in Nelspruit and has played Currie Cup rugby for the Pumas, Free State Cheetahs and Western Province.
* Vermeulen’s Japanese club, the Kubota Spears, are being coached by former Bulls and two time Super Rugby-winning coach Frans Ludeke, and have two Bulls captains in Burger Odendaal and Lappies Labuschagne in their squad.@Vata_Ngobeni