Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen is on the cover of the new SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week.
Duane Vermeulen is a man of action. This reputation has been built up over 11 years in the professional game, and over 37 Tests for the Springboks.
Vermeulen commands respect throughout the South African and indeed the global rugby community. What's more, he's shown that he is willing to fight for a cause that is bigger than his own career, and those of the incumbent Bok players.
In the wake of the Boks' record-breaking defeat to the All Blacks in Durban on 8 October, Vermeulen came forward to highlight the ugly truth of a backward South African rugby system. The Boks conceded 57 points in what was their worst-ever defeat on home soil.
That SA Rugby needs to make significant changes to its structures is not open for debate. And after a disastrous Test season that's witnessed a series of historic and humiliating losses, it's fair to say that the Boks require a change in personnel.
Adriaan Strauss will relinquish the captaincy and retire from Test rugby at the end of 2016. Following another two significant losses in Europe, Allister Coetzee may have no choice but to stand aside and allow someone else to take the head coach reins.
Earlier this year, the captaincy was not given to the best man for the job, but rather to the best man based in South Africa. It was a mistake, and one that SA Rugby would do well to avoid going forward. The powers that be must look to build a team around a man of Vermeulen’s ability and integrity in 2017.
'The captaincy is something that I felt would never come my way,' Vermeulen tells chief writer Jon Cardinelli in the latest edition of SA Rugby magazine.
'I didn’t see myself as that sort of leader before. Things have changed quite a bit over the past few seasons, however, as I’ve had the chance to play a senior role with the Boks and captain the Stormers [in 2015] and Toulon [from the start of the 2016/17 season].
'If that opportunity was to come my way now, I would be ready for it. It is something you will never turn down, a chance to lead your country. I’m ready for that responsibility.'
Also in the new issue:
– Mark Keohane writes that Vermeulen is in the prime of his career and the man around whom to build the Springboks' 2019 World Cup challenge.
– Keohane, Cardinelli and senior writer Craig Lewis analyse Coetzee's tenure in a 10-page special. Flawed tactics, a weak management team, and poor selections have all contributed to one of the Boks' worst seasons in the professional era.
– Sixteen years ago, SA Rugby closed the curtains on a visionary coach. In 2016, many of Harry Viljoen's methods are being used by top rugby coaches.
– Steve Hansen has taken the All Blacks to even greater heights in 2016.
– Anton Lienert-Brown has been a bolt out of the blue for the All Blacks this season.
– How a renewed team culture at the Cheetahs inspired a talented young unit to Currie Cup glory.
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