Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen has signed for Japanese club Kubota Spears.
Vermeulen shone for the Springboks in the recent 2-1 series win over England but has unfortunately ruled himself out of the upcoming Rugby Championship.
“I am grateful to Kubota for giving me the opportunity to become a member of the Kubota family in Japan. I really am looking forward to joining Kubota Spears and playing together, I am excited”, Vermeulen said on the team’s website.
“I promise to share my experiences I have been honored with so far with all of Kubota Spears and will do my best inside and outside the field for Kubota Spears. And from Kubota Spears’ team mates, I would like to learn more about attitude to rugby and many other things. I appreciate having the opportunity to stand on the start line to wear Kubota Spears’ jersey.”
“I will do my best to allow Kubota Spears to go to the next heights.”
No details on the length of the deal were revealed but it is believed he will play on a one-season deal until January, before reassessing his options. He has been strongly linked with a move to Premiership side Bath.
Upon leaving Toulon, it was thought he was keen to return to South Africa in order to boost his chances of playing for the Springboks at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but with Rassie Erasmus open to selecting foreign-based Boks, the lure of a big money deal in England could halt his return.
If he were to join Bath, he would be reunited with former teammate Francois Louw, with the pair having spent three years together at Western Province and the Stormers, between 2009 and 2011.
Bath are certainly not short of options in the back-row, though, with Louw, Taulupe Faletau, Sam Underhill, Matt Garvey and Zach Mercer headlining the group, whilst they are also able to call on the talent of homegrown flankers Josh Bayliss and Tom Ellis.
If he remains in Erasmus’ plans, too, then Vermeulen would not offer extra depth at the start of the season or during the autumn internationals, when Bath tend to lose Faletau to Wales, but he would be available during the Six Nations period.
With the South African unavailable until January with his commitments in Japan, it could be that that is exactly the role they have in mind for him, should they move to sign him ahead of the RWC.
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