It’s hard to believe that back in 2010, Duane Vermeulen was struggling to find favour with the Springbok selectors. He was a consistent performer with Western Province and as can be seen here, never far from the action.
Eleven years ago Vermeulen, now a Rugby World Cup winner with the Springboks in Japan in 2019, was a top provincial player with plenty of promise.
Pierre Spies was an unmovable force at Test level, with Ryan Kankowski just behind him in the pecking order. Those two battled it out as first choice number eight for quite some time, before Vermeulen finally made his debut against the Wallabies in 2012.
His form never wavered though and as can be seen in this Currie Cup footage from 2010, he was all over the park at domestic level.
This was actually the game that secured Western Province a home semi final, as they beat the Sharks 33-21 in Cape Town.
WATCH: Possibly the biggest hit of Andy Powell’s career, on Duane Vermeulen
The main focus of this video was actually the fact that Vermeulen was bootless, then absolutely demolished in a thumping hit from Sharks centre Andries Strauss.
The tackle put an end to a brilliant piece of attacking play by Province, including a great break by Bryan Habana.
Earlier in the sequence Vermeulen had somehow lost both his boots after a physical battle with Bismarck du Plessis, but unbelievably, that didn’t stop him from getting up and chasing down flyer Lwazi Mvovo.
It made for a comical incident but even without the boots, he showed his pace and commitment by chasing down Mvovo, one of the top try scorers that season.
Now 35-years-old, Vermeulen has gone on to play 58 times for the Springboks and has been considered an integral part of their powerful pack, and sorely missed when unavailable due to injury.
He is now at Ulster, after three years in France with Toulon, a stint in Japan with Kubota Spears and post World Cup, a return to South Africa with the Bulls.