Cape Town – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has explained his decision to make Duane Vermeulen captain for Saturday’s Rugby Championship encounter against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Eben Etzebeth was captain in last weekend’s 35-17 win over the Wallabies in Johannesburg, but the lock has handed over the armband to his No 8 for this weekend’s Test.
“It is important that we continue to build on our leadership for this important year, especially while our regular skipper, Siya Kolisi, is out of action because of injury rehabilitation,” Erasmus said after naming his team on Wednesday.
“Duane is an experienced captain and we have a strong group of leaders in the team, which includes Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who have both captained the Springboks before, as well as a number of other franchise captains.”
Erasmus said the Boks will not be carried away by their home win over the Wallabies, which was South Africa’s biggest win over Australia in the last five years.
The South Africans only have two Tests left in the shortened Rugby Championship, and two more internationals against Argentina and Japan, before the start of the Rugby World Cup in September.
Erasmus is looking forward to seeing what his team can do against the world champions.
“We have the utmost respect for the All Blacks who are the undisputed number one rugby team in the world,” added Erasmus.
“We know we will have to be at our very best to be competitive against the All Blacks on Saturday and that is why we have sent a group of players in advance to Wellington, so they could acclimatise after the long trip over from South Africa.
“The New Zealanders are a very experienced and settled side while we have some catching up to do in terms of where the two sides are at the moment. They are bringing back their Crusaders players, who were all rested after the Super Rugby final, so we are in for a huge battle against the best team in the world.”
Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel