Duane Vermeulen has answered a Springbok SOS, but would it be wise for him to jump straight into the starting lineup against France on Saturday? The AOR team debates!
Tank Lanning – Start
PC it would not be, and it would fly in the face of my “local is lekker” selection guideline, but if Duane Vermeulen is in Paris this week, he starts at 8th man for the Boks. No question.
It would make Allister Coetzee look a little silly given that last week Monday was deemed “too late” to join up with the Boks before a Test. But we are used to that.
Non-PC in that it will likely hurt the feelings of the loosies selected ahead of him in the initial squad, and because of his comments last year, calling the Bok environment “chaos… everyone has their own agendas.”
But if I were Dan du Preez, I would consider it an honour to learn from one of the best, and let’s be honest, given what has transpired under Coetzee, Vermeulen was not exactly wrong.
“You always get ex-players talking about the game,” said Vermeulen. “You never hear current players say anything about the game, but we are the guys who are really in there and see what is happening. I just wanted to stand up for the players. If that hinders my opportunity to be selected, then so be it.“
Seen in the light of the Springbok results since those comments, I say give that man a Bells, and a start against the French on Saturday.
Apart from being one of the greatest 8th men to grace the sport, he is a bruiser who gets over the gain line – exactly what the Boks need. It also then allows Francois Louw to focus on what he is good at – playing to the ball as an out-and-out opensider, while freeing up Siya Kolisi to play the rangy game he is good at.
Winner Chicken Dinner!
Zelím Nel – Sit
Rugby is a game that is decided by thumpers, and Duane Vermeulen is a classic, uncompromising South African pounder.
Though he’d have been my choice for Bok captain in 2016, and remains a player who can add real value to the cause between now and the 2019 World Cup final, Vermeulen’s role with the team this week should be in more of a coaching capacity than a playing one.
The plodding performances of several veterans called up to the Bok squad in 2014 and 2015 has attached a stigma to the deployment of said leather-necks who are based in Europe.
There’s something to be said for the speed of the southern hemisphere game, even if Super Rugby isn’t what it used to be, and there’s no denying that Saffers based in the north take some time to shed the skinfolds added for insulation against frigid European winters.
Vermeulen, just two Top 14 matches removed from a mid-term injury, won’t be at his best on Saturday. As much as he’ll be grinding his teeth and clenching his hammer-like fists for a shot at France, the long-term interests of all parties concerned will be better served by him not starting.
Dan du Preez also boasts the chassis of a tow-truck, is combat-ready, youthfully invincible and no doubt desperate to prove he’s the more abrasive of the twin brothers. Rather harness Vermeulen’s experience and insight to prepare the young gun to launch Louis Picamoles, and recall the veteran slugger when he’s ready to go 12 rounds.
You’ve read what they think, now let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!