Duane Vermeulen vs Evan Roos in URC

Duane Vermeulen and Evan Roos.

URC duel of the week: Vermeulen vs Roos in audition for Springbok No 8 jersey

Two of South Africa’s most physical forwards, Vermeulen and Roos, will collide in URC in Belfast when Ulster host the Stormers on Friday.

Duane Vermeulen vs Evan Roos in URC

Duane Vermeulen and Evan Roos.

Two of South Africa’s most physical forwards will collide in Belfast when Ulster host the Stormers in the URC on Friday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.

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Duane Vermeulen has been one of the most consistent performers in world rugby over the past few years. He’s been the go-to man for the Springboks and delivered on almost every occasion for club and country. 

But Vermeulen will be first to admit that he was below his bruising best on both occasions when his Ulster team came up against Evan Roos and the Stormers last year. 

In the first United Rugby Championship game between the sides at Cape Town Stadium in March 2022, his performance was hardly an atrocity. But he was physically dominated by Roos in that game, and for a player of his stature and calibre, that would have stung.

The second showdown in Cape Town between the bulking Springbok No 8s was in the URC semi-final. Though not his usual wrecking ball self, Vermeulen had quite an excellent game, disrupting the Stormers at the breakdown and making a few key turnovers for Ulster. 

But it would be his opposite number — Roos — who came out top again in their personal duel, after savagely handing off Vermeulen, who is actually one of his childhood heroes. 

Springboks Evan Roos and Duane Vermeulen to meet in the URC
Springboks Evan Roos and Duane Vermeulen.

ALSO READ: Springbok vs Springbok — Roos starts for Stormers against Vermeulen and Ulster in URC

The stage is now set for another instalment of Vermeulen vs Roos. The master vs the apprentice, and this time around it could well be an outright audition for the Springbok No 8 jersey.

The 36-year-old Vermeulen gets through a mountain of work, at the breakdown, with ball in hand and most tellingly on defence. It being a World Cup year, this will in all likelihood be his last season at the highest level and he will want to make sure he goes out on his own terms. And teaching the heir to his No 8 throne a lesson, will go a long way.

Given all that has come before, the Irish crowd in Belfast could well be in for a display of beautiful brutality on Friday. Unfortunately for them, it’s likely to come from two South Africans on opposing sides.

What happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force? Find on the next episode of the King and his Heir.

ALSO READ: Ulster vs Stormers: URC stats, facts and key history


Evan Roos drives Duane Vermeulen back in a tackle.
Evan Roos shrugs off Duane Vermeulen with a savage hand-off.