HOME BOY: Duane Vermeulen. CREDIT: Sourced
There was never any doubt in Duane Vermeulen’s mind that once the Springboks came calling, he would be there.

Reports suggested that his Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal threatened to withhold payment of players playing for their countries during this month’s international games.

But Vermeulen yesterday affirmed his love for his country and the Springboks by saying: “I never considered staying there [in France]. I said from the start that I want to play international rugby.

“And if I can represent my country, never mind where they are playing, I want to do it with all my might.

“Everything is in a binding contract, so I just want to be able to represent my country.

“I am extremely happy to be here and hopefully it’s going to be an amazing time with the new coach and team.”

Being one of only three players that are based overseas, this might have hampered Vermeulen’s chances of captaining the national team.

But the No.8 is not concerned that he missed out on the captaincy role and says he supports skipper Adriaan Strauss 100 percent.

The 29-year-old explains: “I don’t have a problem with the captaincy, it’s not my decision. That decision is made by the coaches and SA Rugby and who they feel is the right man for the job.

“I think Adriaan Strauss is a good captain, he’s captained the Cheetahs and the Bulls before, and he knows how things work at international level. And I support him 100 percent.”

Vermeulen is expected to be named in coach Allister Coetzee’s starting XV today, despite some “healthy pressure” from Warren Whiteley for the No.8 jumper.

He welcomes the competition and says: “We’ve got a lot of youngsters coming through and putting pressure on us older guys… it’s a good thing. If they get selected ahead of you, you support them all the way.

“We don’t have egos in this squad, we’re a squad of 31 guys and that’s how we want to play...”