Duane Vermeulen relishing Cape Town return for Ulster’s semi-final Stormers test

Duane Vermeulen’s signing last September was seen as a statement of intent from Ulster.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 10th June 2022, 7:00 am

The man-of-the-match in the World Cup final when South Africa beat England and a Currie Cup winner with 61 Springbok caps, the backrow was seen as the missing piece in the jigsaw to Ulster securing silverware for the first time since 2006.

Tomorrow afternoon Vermeulen will return to the Stormers with Ulster for the United Rugby Championship semi-final in Cape Town.

Back in the city where he spent seven years of his career, it marks exactly the type of game for which the powers-that-be at Kingspan Stadium signed the No8 to get Ulster over the line.

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Ulster’s Duane Vermeulen. Pic by Getty.

Vermeulen’s battle at the base of the scrum with Stormers No8 Evan Roos could decide the game.

Roos was selected in the URC Dream Team of the Season, won the Next Gen Star of the Season and is widely tipped to be Vermeulen’s long-term successor in the Springboks back row.

However, Vermeulen thinks they both play the No8 position differently.

“There’s big talk about him and he’s an exceptional player, he plays well in the Stormers set-up, he’s a big ball-carrier for them, we play completely different styles,” he said. “He’s back and running in the backline from lineouts and things like that where I’m with the forwards.

“You can maybe match him and Nick Timoney or him and Marcus against one another.

“He’s been really influential in their gameplan and racked up a couple of man-of-the-match performances.

“It’s really good for them, he’s playing well and, hopefully, he gets an opportunity in the national squad.

“If you play well you need to get an opportunity somewhere else and, hopefully, it’s national colours.

“Looking forward to playing against him and play the way I normally play, you don’t have to be extravagant, you just have to do your job and people select you for doing your job not being extravagant or a showboat.

“Some guys are really good at their skill and if you have a specific skill that you are well-equipped with then use it...I know my game.”

After two very different but equally effective performances against the Sharks and Munster, Vermeulen is hoping for a full 80-minute display at the DHL Stadium.

“The Sharks game was completely different, they have that forwards pack and they wanted to dominate,” he said. “We had to take a step up and I feel that we did as forwards, it was a lot more physical up front than it was in the backs.

“Against Munster, our backs put their hands up and said we want to take it to them and you didn’t really see anything up front apart from one or two scrums and one or two mauls.

“Nothing major, hopefully, this weekend we can put the whole package together, not just a good backs performance or good forwards performance.”

Vermeulen knows more than most what it would mean for the Stormers to make the first URC final.

“I was there for seven years, I really enjoyed my time, they were a big part of my development as a player, those structures and the way we played,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time in Cape Town, I got the opportunity to go and play somewhere else and took it but I really enjoyed my time there.

“It’s a fantastic place, a good group of guys and it’s nice to see them stepping up again and becoming as strong a club as they were back in the day.”