Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen says he is looking forward to his battle with Italian captain Sergio Parisse in Friday’s must-win Pool B encounter in Shizuoka.
The 36-year-old Italian will earn his 142nd cap when he leads the Azurri out against the Boks in what is essentially a knockout game for both sides, barring any upsets in the final round of pool games.
In the process, Parisse will become the second-most capped player in history with only former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw  ahead of him.
Vermeulen, who earned his 50th Test cap against the All Blacks in the 23-13 defeat in Yokohama, will be facing a familiar opponent in Parisse, after the two faced off in France for Toulon and Stade Français in the Top14.
The two hulking forwards are rated among the best No 8s in world rugby and a strong performance by either player could go a long way to ensuring victory for their side.
Speaking at a Bok media conference on Tuesday, Vermeulen was full of praise for his opponent when questioned about the influence the legendary Italian has on his team.
‘He’s a stalwart for their team,’ said the Bok veteran.
‘He’s playing in his fifth World Cup. That’s a massive achievement for a man that I kind of look up to and have played against a few times.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 2, 2019
While Parisse played a key role in Italy’s only victory over the Springboks in 2016, Vermeulen was not involved in that match in Florence with the Bok No 8 hoping to get one over Parisse and his men.
‘You want to beat your opposition as a player, but also as a team,’ continued Vermeulen.
‘I want to do my individual work that is set out for me to do, but also I would like to contribute to the team in the way we want to execute our plan.’
While Vermuelen is fully aware of Parisse’s attributes, he will also have to keep a close eye on South African-born flanker Braam Steyn.
‘I think he’s a Cape Town boy, so we’ll have to be clever when it comes to lineouts and making our calls, because he understands Afrikaans,’ grinned Vermeulen.
‘He’s a good player and he’s also evolved quite a lot since I last played against him. So we won’t be trying to get under his skin.
‘I just need to play my game and hopefully that’s enough.’
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets