Duane: Boks were complacent

Duane Vermeulen says the Springboks need to show more attitude and desire in the coming clash against England, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.

Disgusted. This was the prevailing emotion in the Bok change room after an insipid performance against Ireland. There is much to atone for this coming Saturday.

Predictably, the Boks have doubled their efforts in the lead-up to the battle against England. On Monday afternoon, the training session at the Latymer Upper School was particularly brutal. And on Tuesday morning, there were many bruised and battered bodies moving about the lobby at the team hotel in Kensington.

When John McFarland was asked by SARugbymag.co.za if the Boks lacked attitude as well as precision this past Saturday, the Bok defence coach deflected the question. ‘That is something you will need to ask the players.’

Sitting next to McFarland at the press conference was Vermeulen, the captain on defence and one of the Boks' chief enforcers. The big No 8 nodded while the question was being put to McFarland, and then delivered a scathing assessment of his own and the team’s performance.

‘There was definitely a lack of intensity,’ he said. ‘After beating New Zealand, we were on such a high, and for some reason we didn’t meet the same standards of intensity against Ireland .

'We have to pitch up every weekend, and we know that we will have to be far better against England. If we play the way we know we can, we will increase our chances of winning.’

Vermeulen has been one of the standouts for the Boks in 2014, but he won’t remember the result or his own performance in Ireland with any great fondness. The No 8 feels that he needs to set things right against England at Twickenham.

‘I wasn’t great at all in Dublin,’ he said. ‘You get your ups and downs, and I suppose I got knocked off my high horse. Every game is a learning curve, though. It’s been a good year for me, but you have to work bloody hard to maintain a high standard.

‘I’m sure England will target me, but that’s what you have to accept as an international player,’ Vermeulen added. ‘Even if they put three guys on you, you need to find away round that. You stick to your own processes and don’t worry about the opposition or the crowd. I have a lot of goals, and I just need to keep working towards them.’

This weekend, his primary objective will be a typically abrasive performance at the venue of next year’s World Cup final.

Photo: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

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Jon Cardinelli