Jasper Wiese has nothing but respect for Duane Vermeulen despite rivalry

Jasper Wiese has nothing but respect for Duane Vermeulen despite rivalry

They may be battling it out for the starting Springbok No 8 jersey, but you're not going to hear Jasper Wiese say a bad word about Duane Vermeulen.

Tuesday will see the announcement of the Springbok squad set to make the journey to the Rugby World Cup and it's likely that both Wiese and Vermeulen will get the nod, even if it's not yet clear who will be the first-choice No 8 in France.

After Vermeulen appeared to turn back the clock with impressive performances against both the Wallabies and All Blacks last month to put himself right back in the Bok reckoning, Wiese responded with a strong performance against Argentina in Buenos Aires this past weekend.

It's not easy for Wiese to see Vermeulen as a rival, however.

The 37-year-old has been an outstanding servant of South African rugby throughout a long and distinguished career, and even though they are now fighting for the same position, Wiese remains deeply impressed and respectful of the Bok veteran.

"It's never about the individual, it's always about focusing on the collective," he said.

"Duane's playing very good rugby at this stage. I'm really happy for him. We try to help each other as much as possible. It's unbelievable to see his [form] and how it influences both of us positively.

"He has a calmness to his game any other player can learn from," he added.

"There's an aura to Duane, one that makes you innately respect him. He's a great guy and his composure is something I really want to apply to my game too. He does it in any situation.

"I'd definitely say we're all mates. It's a great team environment to be part of, even though Duane, Evan [Roos] and I are really pushing each other hard for a spot. It's healthy competition."

Having said that, Wiese would dearly love to play a part in the upcoming World Cup and is ready to fight the honour.

"The World Cup is the highlight of any rugby player's career. Every player is desperate to make that final World Cup group. You'll do anything to do so."

The final Springbok World Cup squad will be announced on Tuesday, 8 August at a special event taking place from 2-4pm.

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