Duane Vermeulen’s nickname is Thor partly due to his resemblance to the actor Chris Hemsworth who played the superhero and partly due to is superheroics on a rugby pitch.
Duane Vermeulen when fit is one of the best rugby players in the world. Is he fit though? He hasn’t been playing rugby since he went for surgery on his neck back in July. Is he matchfit?
South Africa’s next match is against Samoa on Saturday 26th September. Samoa are big hitters and against them you are garaunteed a high level of physicality. So a guy coming back from a neck injury without any games to build him into this bone-jarring test may be susceptible to further injury.
Unlike ficticious characters, real life superheroes are made of flesh and bone. I fear the expectation of a nation and the emotional intensity attached to the wounded pride of the Springboks will contribute to this cocktail of influences coming together at one point and affecting this one specific player. I fear we’ll end up seeing Duane Vermeulen wheelchair bound like Andre Venter.
Who is considering the man? Has hunger for success blunted South Africa’s better judgement? Does South Africa expect too much from this player? Doesn’t he need to be eased back into rugby? Isn’t South Africa depending on one man too much?