“Altitude. 1 350m. It matters” – Duane Vermeulen Agree

 

Duane Vermeulen is coming home. Or is he? In fact, where is home for Duane Vermeulen? It’s a question the Springbok stalwart and now Ulster kingpin laughs about himself as he prepares to return to Loftus Versveld on Saturday.

“I have the best memories of my time playing for the DHL Stormers and the Vodacom Bulls. I enjoyed every minute. But I suppose there’s a time to come and go. I think moving on and going to a different club was the right call for me at this point in my career. But it will definitely be a bittersweet homecoming. I’m looking forward to playing against the familiar faces and can opefully show a bit of the new tricks I’ve learned up north. I’m sure I’ll also have a few of them gunning for me to prove a point.”

Vermeulen is certainly no stranger to this adjustment as his rugby journey has taken him from South Africa to Asia and Europe. And now the 35-year-old is reinventing himself again in the colours of Ulster and in an entirely new competition such as the Vodacom United RuVisual Editorgby Championship.

So what advice does he have for those young Ulster players who’ve never experienced a trip to Loftus Versfeld in particular?

“Well I’ve told them that it’s right there staring you in the face when you run out that tunnel and onto the field – that sign that says ‘Altitude. 1 350m. It matters’. I’ll tell any young Ulster lad that it definitely does matter, but just hang on and you’ll get your second wind.”

So is this an away leg, or a home leg for Vermeulen?

“I guess home is where the heart is.”

So for Vermeulen, a man with a huge rugby heart through and through, home is quite clearly anywhere he is able to pull on a rugby jersey and do what he loves.