Former Springbok coach Jake White has questioned the ease with which current Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has allowed for Duane Vermeulen to miss the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Vermeulen was as big in influence as he is in stature during the Springboks’ series win against England this past June, with many hailing him as the foreign based player with the greatest influence.
While the number 8 is expected to return to a South African franchise for next year’s Super Rugby, in the build up to the World Cup, his recent deal with Japanese club Kubota Spears will see him missing this year’s Rugby Championship.
In a column for All Out Rugby, Jake White has expressed the Boks’ need for Vermeulen in order to knock over the likes of New Zealand ahead of next year’s World Cup. He also believes the Boks should be picking their best side, as Ireland did when they beat Australia 2-1 this past June.
“Joe Schmidt (Ireland coach) wanted to teach his boys that they can stop the southern hemisphere teams and, in the last couple of years, Ireland have beaten New Zealand, South Africa and now they’ve won a series against the Wallabies. They have been psychologically hardened by those wins,” White wrote.
“We’re getting to the point in South Africa where we’re continually losing against some teams, and that’s when the aura goes and the players forget how to win.”
While White lauded Erasmus’ decision to bring Vermeulen back for the Rugby Championship, he also slammed Erasmus’ allowance for the number 8’s Rugby Championship absence, saying “You have to ask yourself how he would come to the conclusion that he doesn’t need Vermeulen for the next six Test matches. The guy that everyone spoke of as the European-based player who made the most significant impact for South Africa against England; that guy has been released for the Rugby Championship.
“The only logical way to explain it is that, unlike other national coaches, Rassie is not worried about keeping his job. There’s no doubt in my mind that if his job depended on results over the next two years, there’s no way Vermeulen would have been allowed to go to Japan.”