In the second of a series, DYLAN JACK rewinds to 2009 British & Irish Lions tour and looks at where the Emerging Springboks are now.
8 Duane Vermeulen
The only future World Cup winner in this team, Vermeulen had followed coach Rassie Erasmus from the Free State Cheetahs to Western Province and the Stormers, when he played for the Emerging Springboks.
Although it took him until 2012 to make his Test debut, Vermeulen has established himself as one of South Africa’s greatest eighthmen, becoming one of the Springboks’ chief defensive organisers during their successful World Cup campaign in 2019.
After the World Cup, Vermeulen played for the Kubota Spears in the Japanese Top League, but recently signed a deal to rejoin the Vodacom Bulls from July onward.
7 Dewald Potgieter
The captain of the Emerging Springboks, Potgieter was part of the Bulls teams that won two Vodacom Super Rugby titles and a Currie Cup. Having made his senior debut in 2007, the loose forward would become a vital – if at times underrated – part of the Pretoria team and captained them in 2013.
Potgieter made his Springbok debut against Ireland in November 2009, just a few months after playing for the Emerging Boks. He would play a total of six Tests, with his final international coming in the Tri-Nations against Australia.
After a stint with Yamaha Jubilo in Japan, Potgieter moved to England where he joined the Worcester Warriors and established himself as a fan favourite and even captained the club. Unfortunately, shoulder and knee injuries would cut short his time on the field and he announced his retirement from rugby in April 2019.
During his time in England, Potgieter started studying towards an MBA at the University of Warwick in Coventry. He is currently continuing his studies, while serving as a non-executive director at Dassiesfontein Game Ranch in the Eastern Cape. He is also currently the chief executive of Hydromark – a fuel technology service provider specialising in commercial petroleum facilities in South Africa.
6 Jean Deysel
While he played as an opensider for the Emerging Springboks, it was as a powerful blindside that Deysel would make his name for the Sharks.
Deysel would go on to make over 150 appearances in a 10-year career in Durban, winning the Currie Cup in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
After a short loan to Munster, Deysel moved to Ireland permanently in 2017 with Ulster after being released from his Sharks contract. Unfortunately his career would be cut short by injury and he announced his retirement from all rugby in 2018.
Deysel has since returned to South Africa and currently works for Riggsure Insurance Brokers, with a focus on short-term insurance for heavy commercial vehicles.
5 Steven Sykes
After playing for their U19 and U20 sides, Sykes made his breakthrough in 2005 and earned his Super Rugby debut in 2007, starting the team’s first three matches of that season as they progressed through to the final for the first time.
Sykes would go on to win 69 Super Rugby caps for the Sharks, and make a further 80 appearances in the Currie Cup, winning the tournament in 2008 and 2010. His impressive form brought him a call-up to the Springboks squad for the third and final Test against the B&I Lions.
A short season-long stint with Leinster in 2011 followed and after returning to the Sharks for their 2012 Currie Cup campaign, Sykes moved back to the Eastern Cape with the Kings in 2013. He would go on to captain the team and won his 100th Super Rugby cap in 2016.
Sykes’ final stint of rugby came with Oyonnax, who he joined from the 2016-17 Top League season.
4 Wilhelm Steenkamp
An excellent lineout operator, Steenkamp spent the bulk of his career with the Bulls, playing for the side between 2005 and 2010.
After spending a successful year at the Cheetahas in 2011, Steenkamp was brought back to the Bulls to fill the gap left by the retirement of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha and the departure of Danie Rossouw to France.
He had a further 40 appearances before making a fresh start by joining a strong South African contingent at the Western Force in 2014. Steenkamp spent three seasons in Perth and then moved to France to join Brive, where he would finish his rugby career.
Steenkamp has since returned to South Africa, coming back to his family farm in Williston in the Northern Cape.
3 Werner Kruger
A loyal servant of Bulls rugby, Kruger made over 100 appearances in a nine-year professional career with the Pretoria-based franchise. The tighthead prop was part of the teams that won the 2009 and 2010 Super Rugby finals and earned recognition as a powerful scrummager.
After playing for the Emerging Boks, he would earn a call-up to the Springboks for the end-of-year tour in 2010 and made his debut in 2011 against the Wallabies in Sydney. Kruger earned a further three caps, with his final Test appearance coming against England in 2012.
Kruger currently plays for the Scarlets in the PRO14, who he joined in 2016. He helped the team win the then PRO12 in his first full season in 2016-17 and is currently on 111 caps for the team.
2 Bandise Maku
Having made his senior debut for the Bulls at just 19 years old, Maku would spend a good portion of his career in Pretoria. 2009 would be a memorable year for the hooker as he helped the Bulls win Super Rugby and Currie Cup titles. His form earned him a call-up to the Springbok squad for the 2009 tour to the northern hemisphere and he played in midweek games against the Leicester Tigers and Saracens. Maku made his full Springbok debut against Italy in 2010.
Stints with the Lions and Kings followed in 2011 and 2013, respectively, before Maku returned to Pretoria at the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season. He would spend a further three years at the Bulls before retiring in 2016.
Maku initially took up a role as a Super Rugby partnership co-ordinator with the Bulls and currently works as a key account manager at the franchise.
1 Wian du Preez
Du Preez was contracted at the Cheetahs – where he started his professional career – when he played for the Emerging Boks. His impressive performances, which helped the Cheetahs win the Currie Cup between 2005 and 2007, were recognised with a call-up to the Springbok squad at the end of 2009 and his made his debut against Italy in Udine.
He then arrived at Munster on loan initially as injury cover for Irish prop Marcus Horan. That move was made permanent in 2010 as he signed a two-year deal with Munster, winning the PRO12 in his first season and becoming an integral member of the team.
After making 81 appearances in three years for Munster, Du Preez returned to South Africa with the Cheetahs, but he only spent a season in Bloemfontein before taking up a contract with Lyon.
Du Preez retired in 2016 and currently works as a financial planner at Jenwill BlueStar in Bloemfontein.
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images