Why Boks chose ‘enforcer’ Vermeulen


Coach Jacques Nienaber made five changes to the Boks’ starting lineup – including two through injury – for their second Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand in Johannesburg on Saturday, with Duane Vermeulen returning straight to the starting lineup after a wound.

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The 35-year-old loose striker missed the Welsh series in July due to knee surgery but is now back in his place at No.8, with Jasper Wiese falling to the bench.

“Duane has a massive presence on the pitch and there’s no bigger game for him to come back from injury than to face the All Blacks,” Nienaber said.

“He is an enforcer in attack and defense and we know he will give his all against a physical All Blacks side who are desperate to bounce back strongly from a string of tough results.

“Jasper is also a warrior, and we know he will have an equally strong presence when he steps onto the court.”

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Up front, Bongi Mbonambi returns to hooker after Malcolm Marx started last week to celebrate his 50th birthdaye Test cap for the Boks, and Ox Nche takes over from free-headed Trevor Nyakane.

The two backline changes see Jaden Hendrikse come on at scrum-half for Faf de Klerk, who was placed on return-to-play protocol after suffering a concussion in the team’s 26-10 win over New Zealand last week, while Jesse Kriel will start the right wing in place of Kurt-Lee Arendse, who also suffered a concussion and was released from the squad after being suspended for four weeks for a dangerous tackle in the game.

“Jesse has played over 50 Tests and he’s been waiting for his chance backstage,” Nienaber said. “He’s already played on the wing for us, so we know what he can bring to the game.”

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The Boks team against the All Blacks:

15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 19 caps, 12 pts (1t, 2c, 1p)
14 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 52 selections, 60 pts (12 t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 29 caps, 25 pts (5t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 61 selections, 35 pts (7t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 28 caps, 100pts (20t)
10 – Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers) – 63 caps, 649 pts (7t, 88c, 141p, 5d)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) – 5 caps, 5 pts (1t)

8 – Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 61 selections, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 61 selections, 25 pts (5t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 66 caps, 35 pts (7t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Wild Knights) – 59 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 101 selections, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 49 caps, 5 points (1 t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 51 selections, 55 pts (11t)
1 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 10 caps, 0pts

Replacements:
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 50 caps, 55 pts (11 t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 62 caps, 5 points (1 t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Wasps) 35 selections, 0 pts
19 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 54 caps, 5 points (1 t)
20 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 14 caps, 0 pts
21 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 22 caps, 5 pts (1t)
22 – Hershel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 22 caps, 25 pts (5t)
23 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 75 selections, 65 pts (13t)

Springbok record against New Zealand:

Played 102; Won 38; Lost 60; Drawn 4; Points for: 1651; Points against: 2108, tries scored 158; Attempts conceded 230; Best score 46-40 in Johannesburg (2000); Biggest win 17-0 in Durban, 1928. Win % 37%.

Milestones:

  • Handre Pollard is the second highest points scorer against New Zealand with 136 points from 13 Test matches, just 3 points behind Morné Steyn with 139 points from 13 Test matches.
  • The very first Test match at Ellis Park was played against New Zealand on July 21, 1928. New Zealand won this opening Test match 7-6.
  • A further 13 Test matches between the Springboks and the All Blacks have been played at Ellis Park to date, with the Springboks winning nine of those 14 Tests, while the average score in those matches was 23-21.
  • The first test match against New Zealand in South Africa was on 30 June 1928 at Kingsmead in Durban. The Springboks won that game 17-0, the biggest margin of victory against New Zealand so far.

Various:

  • The total test caps for the Springbok starting formation are 715.
  • There are 257 caps in the back with 458 selections among the attackers. On the bench there is another 334 caps.
  • The average caps per player in the baseline are 36, attackers 57, while players on the bench average 41.


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