Vermeulen vs Faletau

The two hulking No 8s will have game-shaping roles to play at the gainline in the Test at Kings Park, writes JON CARDINELLI.

Duane Vermeulen has been one of the most consistent performers for the Springboks over the past two seasons. While he can be counted on to gain ground with ball in hand, his strength is his defence. Vermeulen has been at the heart of the Stormers' defensive effort over the past five seasons, and that stopping power has also enhanced the Boks' game plan in recent times.

Recent battles between the Boks and Wales have been decided at the collisions and breakdowns. Vermeulen will be a key player at the former this Saturday, and also has the skills to be a force at the latter.

Wales will rely on Toby Faletau to give them some go-forward, and to oblige with the necessary physicality on defence. The Tongan-born player was one of the standouts when these two teams met during the pool stages at the 2011 World Cup.

However, what may give Vermeulen the advantage on this occasion is the strength of the Bok loose trio as a combination. It may have been a different story had Sam Warburton made the trip to South Africa, but given that glaring absence in the Welsh back row, Faletau and the Dragons may struggle on Saturday.

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Jon Cardinelli