Heyneke Meyer hails Duane Vermeulen's South Africa commitment
Last Updated: 24/09/15 9:03am
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has lauded the commitment of Duane Vermeulen ahead of the forward's return to South Africa's starting line-up against Samoa.
Vermeulen was named South African rugby's Player of the Year for 2014 but his participation at the World Cup was threatened by neck surgery in early July after a training ground injury.
The Springboks were on the wrong end of one the biggest upsets in rugby history when they lost their opening fixture to Japan.
Now Meyer has his sights set on restoring South African pride on Saturday against Samoa at Villa Park and the Boks coach believes his team can take inspiration from Vermeulen's commitment to the cause.
"I don't want to knock other players, but if everyone had the mental attitude and the desire to play for South Africa that Duane has, we probably wouldn't lose any games," said Meyer.
"Our plan was actually to let him play 20 minutes and then put him into the next game (against Scotland in Newcastle on October 3) but he insisted that he wanted to play, never mind what the medical staff advised.
"He said 'I'm going to play 80 minutes if that's what it's going to take to win'. The whole team needs that mentality if we are going to go forward. It's great to have him back."
Vermeulen was suffering from a disc bulging onto a nerve root, causing an intense spasm and, after an operation, underwent rehabilitation in order to get fit for the tournament in England.
The 29-year-old has not played since Super Rugby action in May. His last test for the Springboks was against Wales last November.
"I've played him cold in a situation like this before, against the All Blacks when he had been out for a long time, and he proved to be the man of the match," added Meyer.