Rugby World Cup 2019: Duane Vermeulen predicts 'massive test' against All Blacks in Rugby Championship showdown

Springboks captain Duane Vermeulen is prediction a "massive test" as he leads his country for the first time against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday. 

Vermeulen will become South Africa's 62nd test skipper in the absence of regular captain Siya Kolisi, who is recovering from a knee injury.

This weekend's battle at Westpac Stadium will also be his first match against the New Zealanders since the 2015 World Cup semi-final in England, which the All Blacks won 20-18. 

"Only a few players had the honour of captaining the Springboks in the history of our game, so it is an unbelievable honour for me," said Vermeulen. "There's a bit of emotion, but it's controlled emotion.

"Both teams are looking forward to this game. We both maybe tried out a few combinations last week to see who some of the guys are that will be putting up their hands for Rugby World Cup selection. 

"I think it will be a massive game with both sides ready to have a good go at each other."

Last time the Springboks faced the All Blacks in Wellington was during last year's Rugby Championship, and South Africa came away with a stunning 36-34 win. 

Seventeen of the 23 players named to play on Saturday were part of the team which beat New Zealand by two points 12 months ago, although Vermeulen isn't one of them - at the time he was playing in Japan with the Kubota Spears. Instead, the 33-year-old was forced to watch the match on television with some of his South African teammates. 

"We were a couple of South African guys watching the game together. It was a fantastic game to watch, tries all round. 

"To watch two teams go head-on and not hold back, it's entertaining to see. As a supporter, it was great to see South Africa get one up.

"You can look back on what happened a year ago, but a lot can change in a year. Both squads have new guys, and that brings a different style and maybe some X-factor. 

"You can only prepare on what you've seen from last week. We can only work on what we did and hopefully be better at it."

A capacity crowd of 35,600 is set to fill out the Westpac Stadium for the highly-anticipated re-match. One aspect of the encounter Vermeulen is looking forward to is the battle against fellow skipper Kieran Read. 

"It will be a special one. We have played each other how many times before and there is a special relationship on and off the field. 

"On the field, we will not hold back and go out guns blazing. On the field, I have a lot of respect for him as a captain, and he leads by example and is a great character on and off the field."


Join us for live updates of the All Blacks v Springboks match from 7:35pm on Saturday July 27.