Duane Vermeulen reveals 'scuffle' with Bok coaches that almost ended Springbok career

Duane Vermeulen reveals 'scuffle' with Bok coaches that almost ended Springbok career

The great Duane Vermeulen has opened up about a confrontation he had with the Springbok coaches in 2022, which he feared could prematurely end his Springbok career.

The 37-year-old ended up becoming a double Rugby World Cup winner in 2023 after the Boks defeated the All Blacks 12-11 to claim their fourth title.

Vermeulen started every knockout match, including playing 57 minutes in the final, as the experienced loose forward rolled back the years at the global tournament.

That clash against New Zealand was his last-ever professional game as he retired to take up a high-ranking position within SA Rugby.

The former No 8 will now work alongside Rassie Erasmus in a "roving coaching role with all SA Rugby's national teams", but it could have been very different.

According to Vermeulen, he had a big blow-up with both Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber the year before the World Cup. Bok fans will remember that this was around the time Vermeulen appeared to fall out of favour with the Bok coaches, with Jasper Wiese beginning to feature more prominently.

Luckily the men were able to sort out their differences, and after missing the November series in 2022, Vermeulen was recalled for the 2023 Rugby Championship and duly went to France for the global tournament.

In a new clip from the Chasing the Sun 2 documentary series, Vermeulen opened up about the conflict between him and the coaching staff.

"At our camp in Durban, Rassie called me in and the whole management team was sitting there. It was before the announcement of the World Cup squad," he said.

"The year before that, we had a big scuffle, myself and Rassie and Jacques. It was a difficult time for me.

"I thought that perhaps I wasn't going to be selected, because maybe there were still some sour grapes."

However, it was all sorted out, and a harmonious Springboks outfit went on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a record fourth time.

They also became just the second team, after the All Blacks in 2011 and 2015, to secure back-to-back titles and will aim for an unprecedented three-peat in Australia in 2027.

Although Vermeulen will not be there in a playing capacity, he could well have a key role as a coach after taking up his position within SA Rugby.

Erasmus, who is back as the team's head coach after vacating that position following the 2019 World Cup, evidently values the rugby intellect the former Bok star possesses.

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