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Vermeulen: 'I lead by example'

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'I'm not one for big speeches... I lead by example,' claims first-time Boks skipper

Duane Vermeulen will captain the Springboks for the first time on Saturday when they take on the All Blacks in Wellington in what will also be his first match against New Zealand since the epic 2015 World Cup semi-final in England.

The big No8 has been entrusted with the captaincy duties for this encounter in the absence of regular Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi, who is recovering at home from a knee injury.

“Only a few players had the honour of captaining the Springboks in the history of our game, so it is an unbelievable honour for me,” said Vermeulen ahead of a contest that will attract a capacity crowd of 35,600. “There’s a bit of emotion, but it’s controlled emotion.”

The captaincy role is not new for the very experienced Vermeulen. He led the Cape Town-based Stormers on many occasions in Super Rugby before successful stints in the French and Japanese leagues.

“The people who know me will tell you that I just love to play and that I’m not one for big speeches. I lead by example, and from that point of view it’s the way I like to play the game.

“My role in the team still stays the same and we have a big leadership group, which is good for the team. On match days there’s a couple of us who talk on the field,” added Vermeulen, who also mentioned that Kolisi contacted him on Friday to wish him and the team good luck for Saturday.

It will be two much-changed squads that will play against each other on Saturday in Wellington after both coaches – South Africa’s Rassie Erasmus and New Zealand’s Steve Hansen – made wholesale changes following their respective opening round wins over Australia and Argentina.  

“Both teams are looking forward to this game,” said Vermeulen. “We both maybe tried out a few combinations last week to see who some of the guys are that will be putting up their hands for World Cup selection. This will be a massive game with both sides ready to have a good go at each other.”

WATCH: Rassie Erasmus rings the Springbok changes

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'I'm not one for big speeches... I lead by example,' claims first-time Boks skipper