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Duane Vermeulen happy to don Springboks jersey after watching Ireland loss from stands

Nienaber was reticent to comment on a possible move into coaching for Vermeulen.

“I can’t say if he’s preparing for the future,” he said.

But Vermeulen hinted that he would be interested, although stressing that his playing days were not yet up.

“Two years ago, I probably would have said no,” he said.

“When you finish, you think like you want to give back to the younger guys.

“If the opportunity arises and there’s a possibility, I would love to stay in the game and help the younger guys. I love this game and it’s difficult to step away once you’ve been in this long: 19 years playing as a professional.

“It’s been a good run and it’s not the end yet. Hopefully there’s more to come.” AFP

MARSEILLE – Duane Vermeulen was an interested onlooker in South Africa’s defeat by Ireland in an epic World Cup Pool B match, sat next to Rassie Erasmus in the coaches’ box for the nail-biting loss.

As director of rugby, Erasmus, along with coach Jacques Nienaber, actively encourage Springbok players to attend coach meetings and, in this case, make the transition to the tribune.

“It’s good for us as coaches to sometimes have a player there because they give us a different perspective of how our communication is within the team,” said Nienaber.

“They get a sense of the sometimes frustration that coaches are under in a coaches’ box. That grows them as a player.”

Vermeulen, Man of the Match when the Boks beat England to win the 2019 World Cup final, described watching the 13-8 defeat by the Irish from the coaches’ box as “crazy”.

“It was nice to be up there, but it’s also daunting to be up there. I actually enjoyed it, it was good fun,” said the 37-year-old.

The robust back-row forward said the mingling between coaches and players offered “a nice dynamic”.

“We learn a little bit, but they also see how we might think about the game.”

But Vermeulen, who has played club rugby for Toulon, Kubota Spears and Ulster, outside South Africa, added: “I would definitely love to be on the pitch, that’s the most important thing, that’s what it’s all about.

“The worst thing was just sitting there and you can’t do anything. When you’re on the pitch, you’re still part of the game, you can still make a change or change the outcome of the game.

“At the top, you give the players the info and what you want and what you see, then it’s up to the guys on the field.

“I would still prefer to be on the pitch as much as I can!”

Nienaber said Vermeulen’s role within the squad offered up a great degree of versatility, comparing him to former Bok flanker Francois Louw.

“Duane’s role, if you look back to 2019, the best way to describe it is a Francois Louw role,” the coach said.

“He’s a guy that can start, that can play a Test match for you, but he’s also a guy that’s got a lot of experience and he adds his wealth of knowledge into the group.

“Not saying that he can’t start. Look at Francois Louw, the contribution he made in that semi-final (in 2019) for us, to get a penalty in the 76th minute.

“Big moments, big roles, been there before – Vermeulen’s probably in that mould, but if there’s an injury and he has to start and play the whole game, he’s more than fit and good enough to do that.”