Ulster excitement as Springbok Vermuelen arrives

8 months ago 3414
Duane VermuelenVermuelen trained with the Barbarians in London last week only for their game against Samoa to be called off 90 minutes before kick-off

The arrival of World Cup winner Duane Vermuelen could prove to be a priceless moment in the careers of Ulster's exciting young back row talents, says forwards coach Roddy Grant.

Vermuelen has landed in Belfast, with his availability for Saturday's game against Ospreys still unclear.

He arrives on the back of Ulster's best performance of the season during which back rows Nick Timoney, David McCann and Marcus Rea impressed.

"It's so exciting," said Grant.

"From what I hear from guys who have coached him they all say he's a brilliant bloke, great leader, obviously has a huge presence.

"Guys will pick up on that. Young guys especially, in how he talks, how he plays - he's obviously so consistent in his actions."

The blockbuster signing was announced in September as Ulster sought to bring one world class number eight in for another following the departure of Marcell Coetzee at the end of last season.

In Coetzee's absence, 26-year-old Timoney has been praised for bringing his game to a new level. Against Leinster last weekend he delivered another stand-out display just a week on from earning his second Ireland cap.

Nick Timoney in action for Ireland v ArgentinaUlster's Timoney won his second Ireland cap against Argentina two weeks ago

Grant is hopeful that Vermuelen, 35, can impart some of the knowledge gained through a career of thriving at rugby's top level onto Timoney and Ulster's other back rows as they begin a crucial part of the season.

"As young back rows those are the things (where) the penny drops," Grant continued.

"Even just seeing someone just rock up again - their body is in bits and the next week they just rock up and train. Those are the things that make big impacts for a career, certainly for me I remember that from older guys.

"I'm just really looking forward to working with him, learning off him. The stuff we do well or we've gone well, he's really good at and he'll add to that.

"For me he is the best mauler in the world. To have him come into our maul which has gone well is really exciting, and for players to learn off that and for me to learn off it as a coach."

'Plenty to improve on from Leinster win'

Before their Champions Cup campaign begins with back-to-back fixtures against Clermont Auvergne and Northampton, Ulster must back up their impressive URC win over Leinster against Ospreys in Swansea.

The northern province claimed a significant win over their interpro rivals last weekend, their first in seven attempts, but have had little time to reflect on the result with a seven-day turnaround to contend with.

They face an Ospreys side reeling from a heavy defeat by Connacht at the Sportsground, where the hosts turned on the style with seven tries despite atrocious conditions.

"That's pro sport isn't it?" said Grant.

"Luckily like a lot of times in sport it wasn't perfect. there's quite a few areas you can easily focus on to say we need to be better, obviously the opposition we're playing now helps in that motivation.

"It was a great result but there's huge areas for improvement both technically and physically, emotionally as well.

"We do need to kick on as that was not the pinnacle of our performance.

"Ospreys have gone well in the league, had some good wins, they're going to give a backlash after their result in Connacht like we did."

Source Article