Vermeulen out to beat the best

Duane Vermeulen says he's looking forward to the challenge posed by All Blacks eighthman and current IRB Player of the Year Kieran Read.

Vermeulen has yet to taste victory against the All Blacks, with all four of his encounters against the world champions ending in bitter defeat. In Wellington on Saturday, Vermeulen will continue his ongoing battle with Read in a bid to usurp the All Black from his position as the world's premier eighthman.

'He's an astonishing player; a well-rounded player; and he is rated as the best No 8 in the world,' said Vermeulen in the buildup to the crunch clash. 'But that's a good challenge for any guy that wants to step up against him, and I am definitely looking forward to the challenge.'

Vermeulen has made great strides since making his debut for the Springboks against Australia in 2012, to a point where he is one of the first names on Heyneke Meyer's team sheet each week. Vermeulen has been crucial for the Boks in both defence and attack this year, and he admits he's happy with his form at the moment.

'There are no points to prove. I just want to play my rugby, my game. I'm just going to stick to my game and not really change anything.'

The Bok pack were much-improved against the Wallabies, but it doesn't get much tougher than the All Blacks in New Zealand. With Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee beside him, Vermeulen knows that the battle at the breakdown will be key to determining the outcome of the match.

'The big thing is not to give the All Blacks turnovers. They thrive off turnovers and that's definitely their biggest threat.

'If we can keep the ball for a good couple of phases, we are also good on the front foot. So hopefully we can do that and the backs can capitalise on it.'

With the selection of Handré Pollard at flyhalf, the indication is that Heyneke Meyer might opt for a more ball-in-hand approach against the All Blacks. Vermeulen has welcomed the change, but understands the need for caution, especially if the weather isn't conducive for such an approach.

'We as loose forwards do like running with the ball, but it's horses for courses.

'You've got to play the situation and the weather. We've got to play an all-round game and be solid in every facet.'

Duel of the Week: Read vs Vermeulen

Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images