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'It appealed and resonated with me': Ulster sign Duane Vermeulen

By Liam Heagney

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Ulster have pulled off an incredible transfer coup ahead of the new United Rugby Championship season, convincing famed Springboks No8 Duane Vermeulen, the 2019 World Cup final man of the match, to sign for the Irish province from the Bulls. He will link up with the Belfast-based club following the Springboks’ year-ending November match versus England at Twickenham. 

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Having farewelled Marcel Coetzee, Vermeulen’s fellow South African who signed for the Bulls, and then having a deal with Leone Nakarawa torn up following a failed medical, Ulster were in the market for a high profile signing and they have now got their man.

A statement from the Irish club read: “Ulster have today [Thursday] signed one of the biggest names in world rugby, Duane Vermeulen, who will join the club following the autumn Tests in November. Nicknamed the Thor of rugby, the 6ft 4in, 18-stone Springbok will pull on the famous white jersey at Kingspan Stadium until 2023.

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“In 2019, Vermeulen was crowned player of the match as South Africa stormed their way to World Cup victory, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy. The 35-year-old brings with him experience gained in both Super Rugby and the Top 14 and will join the United Rugby Championship in November once he has completed international duties during the autumn Tests.

“Ulster Rugby has been actively seeking a world-class addition to the squad following the planned deal with Leone Nakarawa falling through in June.”

Ulster coach Dan McFarland added: “Duane is clearly a world-class player who, as the current world champions’ starting No8 and MVP from the last RWC final, is set to bring depth and experience to our really talented group of back rowers. As well as being an undeniable talent on the pitch, I know Duane will play an important role going forward in strengthening the winning mindset we are building as a squad.

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“I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise Bryn Cunningham’s brilliant work in orchestrating this deal from start to finish. It was always going to be a difficult ask to find a difference-making No8, but Bryn has definitely achieved that.”

Vermeulen said: “Ulster and myself had detailed discussions about the club’s values, expectations and the potential role I can play going forward. It appealed and resonated with me to a point where I got very excited and decided to commit myself to this Ulster journey. I cannot wait to become part of the Ulster family and to serve as best I can.”

The South African is currently with the Springboks squad in Australia and is due to start at No8 in this Saturday’s Rugby Championship match versus the Wallabies in Brisbane having missed out on the recent Test series versus the Lions due to injury, a missed tick on his stellar career bucket list.

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'It appealed and resonated with me': Ulster sign Duane Vermeulen

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