Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has shrugged off criticism that he may be taking a risk by starting Duane Vermeulen at eight-man. Vermeulen is returning from knee surgery, and his inclusion has sent the impressive Jasper Wiese to the bench.
It is one of five changes the Bok coach made to his starting fifteen ahead of his side’s second Rugby Championship match against New Zealand in Johannesburg this weekend.
The Boks are aiming to repeat their Mbombela heroics last week when they beat New Zealand 26-10.
Vermeulen’s inclusion in the starting line-up for another humdinger of a showdown with the All Blacks speaks to the 61-cap Bok veteran’s experience, which Nienaber holds in the highest regard. Enough to put him right back into the thick of things after a lengthy lay-off due to surgery.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says, “If you played so many test matches or so many matches in your life I don’t think you can prepare for test matches against New Zealand except previous experience and that’s the one thing Duane brings to us a lot of experiences in the squad.”
Vermeulen also believes he is up to the task at hand, that of weathering the inevitable Kiwi backlash. Mentally he says he is always switched on, and physically, he has vowed to give it his all.
Vermeulen says, “I think the physical thing you just have to wait and see you know I have not played a game in the past six to eight weeks so that’s the only thing obviously we are playing at altitude so I think it would make a difference, but we have a strong group of guys and you don’t just play with fifteen guys you play with 23.”
The Springboks face an All-Black outfit at its lowest ebb since the world rankings began.
The All Blacks are ranked fifth and facing a fourth loss in a row. For the Boks, it’s certainly a case of there but for the grace of a higher power to us, but also let’s not become the team they reverse their fortunes against.
“If you look at the history of All Blacks, I am sure they will get it right and our job is to make sure they don’t get it right against us but they have got such a good coaching side and so much experience if you look at the team and see how many centurions it has they have got good rugby players they’ve got good fans back home a good structure and organisation in terms of New Zealand rugby so it’s a matter of time,” adds Nienaber.
This Bok team keeps racking the milestones, on Saturday tighthead prop Frans Malherbe will become the latest member of the half-century of tests club.
The coach says he is a player worth his weight in gold, and so the Boks are in an extremely healthy position to up the ante against the All Blacks this weekend.
What are your thoughts on the Bok squad chosen for Saturday’s second #RugbyChampionship Test against the All Blacks?#RSAvNZL pic.twitter.com/mKsNiQvE6C
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) August 9, 2022