Duane Vermeulen in action for the Bulls at the Cape Town Stadium earlier this month. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/Backpagepix

PRETORIA – Springbok forward Duane Vermeulen says there are no favourites for this year’s Rugby World Cup, to be hosted in Japan starting in September.

“You know, I don’t think there is a standout favourite to win this World Cup,” said Vermeulen 

“I think there are about eight teams that can really compete for it. It’s pretty open. That makes it good for us, but it can also be a dangerous spot to be in, because anyone can win it. So if you’re not switched on on the day, you’re screwed.”

Vermeulen, 32, though, isn’t looking too far ahead into the season just yet.

“I’m just taking it step-by-step. You know, in a year like this, you cannot plan too far ahead. You’ve really just got to work hard, take care of your body, and be in a good mental space in every single game you play. And then you need to be ready to take your opportunities when they come. 

When it comes to the Springboks and the World Cup, my attitude is that it’s still a race for everyone, and it’s still open to everyone to pull on that jersey.”

Now in only his second week of having traded Cape Town’s Table Mountain for Pretoria’s Klapperkop as he switched from the Stormers to the Bulls, Vermeulen is as switched on as ever for a Super Rugby season he believes has all the ingredients for being a memorable one.

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Vermeulen has already come up against his former team in a warm-up match last weekend in Cape Town.

“Even if I had a few boos here and there, it was just great to play my first game in South Africa again in that atmosphere,” said Vermeulen.

“We had such great support, and it was a good 40-minute hit-out for me. As for the team, the whole idea in these pre-season games is just to see how we play together and understand each other better. It was good to see us go through a few phases and score a few tries. 

You know, we just went out there to see if all the guys can connect and play together, and then it’s all about execution for us.”

The Bulls will be hosting the Stormers in Pretoria on Saturday in their opening clash of the Super Rugby tournament. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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