It's once more unto the breach for battle-hardened Vermeulen

It's once more unto the breach for battle-hardened Vermeulen

Battle-hardened Springbok Duane Vermeulen admitted that he almost called time on his career before he was selected to play in his third Rugby World Cup.

The rampaging No.8 - who turned 37 years young in July - admitted to media that his presence at in the 2023 global showpiece was something he had been far from counting on.

"Just before I joined Ulster I was in a tough spot, the body was acting up," he said.

"I thought maybe I should have called it a day back in 2019. The coaches reassured me to play on. Since playing my first game this year for the Boks, I've actually really enjoyed it.

"Mobility and flexibility get harder as you get older and you watch the young guys in the reviews and think 'jeez, I better catch up' and I've worked at it and now my mobility is better than some the young guys.

"I'm calling on that last bit of energy that's in you and you know you want to push and finish on a high, so that's where I am at the moment."

After this year's alignment camps, Rugby Championship and three warm-up tests, Vermeulen said he couldn't wait for the RWC matches to roll round, with all eyes on a pivotal Pool B clash.

South Africa (ranked second in the world), Ireland (No.1) and Scotland (No.5) face the chastening thought that one of them will not make the competition's last eight.

"It's the start of your World Cup campaign, so there's probably a bit of pressure on everyone to produce, but it also depends on how you see pressure or how you handle pressure," added Vermeulen.

"You want to start well. That™s the same for every single team - hopefully we can achieve that."

The Nelspruit native also paid tribute to the threat posed by Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell as the countdown began to Sunday's seismic Rugby World Cup Pool B clash in Marseille.

"He's a magician with ball in hand. He's got a massive playbook in his head and is just a fantastic individual player," said Vermeulen.

"Scotland love to play on quick ball and Finn Russell is the kingpin in that position. It's a guy we really have to sit down and have video sessions on and have a look at what he does."

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