Duane to captain Stormers

Duane Vermeulen has been appointed Stormers skipper for the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Juan de Jongh, who led Western Province to the 2014 Currie Cup title, has been named vice-captain.

The 28-year-old Vermeulen captained the Stormers on the odd occasion during 2014 but will take over the reigns on a full-time basis after regular captain Jean de Villiers was ruled out of the entire season with a severe knee injury.

Coach Allister Coetzee said Vermeulen and De Jongh were the obvious choices as they had shown their leadership abilities in the past.

'Both Duane and Juan are long-time and key members of the Stormers playing squad,' Coetzee told the Stormers website. 'They know the culture well and will inspire those around them in what is the toughest provincial competition in world rugby.

'We have a very, very young playing squad – both Duane and Juan are young leaders themselves, but they are the right men to take this team forward in the absence of Jean de Villiers and with Schalk Burger joining us only when his Japanese club commitments come to an end.'

The announcement came following the conclusion of a week-long pre-season camp in Hermanus, where a number of new faces were included in the 39-man squad.

'It will be a big challenge for us this year with our young squad and young leadership group, which makes Duane and Juan’s roles that much more important,' said Coetzee. 'In the past our leadership groups were able to rely on experienced campaigners like Deon Fourie, Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Brok Harris, De Kock Steenkamp, Peter Grant and Gio Aplon, but there are no such luxuries this year for Duane and Juan.

'It might appear daunting for us, but it also gives us an opportunity to build some more depth in the process, which we were able to do during last season when new, young Stormers players like Alistair Vermaak, Ruan Botha, Kobus van Wyk and Cheslin Kolbe – to name a few – all emerged strongly during the Super Rugby season.'

The Cape-based side will play three pre-season friendlies against the SWD Eagles in George (24 January), Cheetahs in Cape Town (30 January) and Boland Kavaliers in Wellington (7 February) before getting their Super Rugby campaign underway against the Bulls at Loftus on 14 February.

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Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images