New Zealand v South Africa, Rugby Championship
Vermeulen determined to make impact
September 12, 2013
Springboks No.8 Duane Vermeulen isn't content to be a ball-carrier against the All Blacks © Getty Images

No.8 Duane Vermeulen will be out to produce a defensive impact against the All Blacks when South Africa try to cement their position at the top of the Rugby Championship. The tournament's two unbeaten sides face off in Auckland on Saturday, with confidence high in the Springboks camp after their 38-12 drubbing of Australia last weekend.

Vermeulen, 27, will make his 11th Test appearance when he runs out at Eden Park, stepping up in the injury-enforced absence of Pierre Spies. While handed more responsibility as a ball-carrier with the Springboks than he gets with the Stormers, he still wants to be a presence in defence.

"I really like to be up front and do the tackles, especially with Francois Louw and Willem Alberts," he said.

Along with his fellow loose forwards, Vermeulen was part of a dominant pack in the four-tries-to-nil win over the Wallabies in Brisbane. But when asked how they complemented each another, he replied that he didn't really know.

"We can all carry a ball, we can all be on a breakdown and steal a ball, we are happy with our defence," he said. "At the moment it's working for us, but you can always be better."

While the three are part in an unchanged 23-man Springboks squad, the All Blacks will have just No.8 Kieran Read back from the loose trio that started in the 28-13 win over Argentina in Hamilton. Read will take over the captaincy from Richie McCaw, who suffered a knee injury against the Pumas and has been replaced by Sam Cane.

On the blindside, Liam Messam, who has recovered from a hamstring twinge, gets the nod over impressive rookie Steven Luatua, who will be on the bench.

Vermeulen said McCaw would be a big loss for the All Blacks, but 21-year-old Cane had shown in his performances for Super Rugby champions the Chiefs that he was someone "with a hell of a lot of talent".

"It's tough to see Richie on the side," he said. "They will definitely miss him, but Sam Cane will definitely make an impact."

Follow live text commentary of the Test between New Zealand and South Africa on Saturday, September 14, from 5pm (AEST), 7pm (NZT), 9am (SAST), 7am (GMT)

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