Duane Vermeulen says there is a ‘bit of emotion’ surrounding the honour of captaining the Springboks for the first time against the All Blacks on Saturday.
This weekend’s battle in Wellington will also be his first match against the New Zealanders since the epic 2015 World Cup semi-final in England.
The big South African No 8 has been entrusted with the captaincy duties for this encounter in the absence of regular Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who is recovering from a knee injury.
‘Only a few players had the honour of captaining the Springboks in the history of our game, so it is an unbelievable honour for me,’ Vermeulen replied when he was asked to describe the feeling of leading the Springboks for the first time.
‘There’s a bit of emotion, but it’s controlled emotion.’
The captaincy role is of course not new for the very experienced Vermeulen, who has led the Stormers on many occasions in Vodacom Super Rugby, before successful stints in the French and Japanese leagues.
When he was asked to describe his style of captaincy, Vermeulen commented: ‘The people who know me will tell you that I just love to play, and that I am not one for big speeches.
‘I think I lead by example, and from that point of view it’s the way I like to play the game.
‘My role in the team still stays the same and we have a big leadership group, which is good for the team. On match days there’s a couple of us who talk on the field.’
It will be two much-changed squads that will play against each other on Saturday in Wellington, after both coaches decided to make wholesale changes by bringing back a big group of players that were not involved in the opening round of the Rugby Championship.
‘Both teams are looking forward to this game,’ said Vermeulen.
‘We both maybe tried out a few combinations last week to see who some of the guys are that will be putting up their hands for Rugby World Cup selection.
‘I think tomorrow will be a massive game with both sides ready to have a good go at each other.’
A capacity crowd of 35,600 is set to fill out the Westpac Stadium for Saturday’s highly-anticipated battle in the New Zealand capital.
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