24 Jul 2019

Rugby: Vermeulen to captain Springboks against All Blacks

6:26 pm on 24 July 2019

Duane Vermeulen will lead an overhauled Springboks team to face the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship Test in Wellington.

South African Duane Vermeulen during the Rugby Championship Test Match New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa. Wellington. 2014.

Duane Vermeulen playing against the All Blacks in 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

As expected, coach Rassie Erasmus has changed his starting team almost entirely from the squad that beat the Wallabies 35-17 in Johannesburg.

Twelve of the run-on XV are players who arrived in New Zealand last week to begin preparations to face the world champions.

The three players retained to start are winger Makazole Mapimpi, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and lock Eben Etzebeth.

The bench comprises seven players from last week's game, along with lock RG Snyman, who lost a battle with Etzebeth for a starting berth.

Six of the 23-man squad are offshore-based players including four starters - fullback Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), winger Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), halfback Faf de Klerke (Sale) and lock Franco Mostert (Gloucester).

Le Roux and Kolbe both scored tries in last year's 36-34 upset of New Zealand in Wellington, with le Roux also spending a stint in the sin bin during the dramatic final minutes.

Earning the captaincy is a milestone for respected No.8 Vermeulen, the 46-Test veteran who hasn't played a Rugby Championship Test for five years.

His Springboks career was in doubt when he left the Stormers for contracts in France and Japan following the 2015 World Cup.

The 33-year-old returned to the Stormers last year and played seven Tests, although he missed the entire Rugby Championship with injury.

Erasmus said Vermeulen's appointment was about building a group of leaders within his squad heading to the World Cup.

"It is important that we continue to build on our leadership for this important year, especially while our regular skipper, Siya Kolisi, is out of action because of injury rehabilitation," Erasmus said.

"Duane is an experienced captain and we have a strong group of leaders in the team, which includes Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who have both captained the Springboks before, as well as a number of other franchise captains."


Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff. Res: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjes, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.