Cape Town — Duane Vermeulen's Newlands return is one of the more intriguing sideshows ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby clash between his former side the Stormers and his current side the Bulls.
The 32-year-old, who spent seven years at Western Province and the Stormers between 2009 and 2015, was idolised in these parts and seeing him on his old stomping ground playing for the away team will no doubt be unfamiliar.
The impact Vermeulen has had on the Bulls since joining ahead of Super Rugby 2019 cannot be understated and he has been key to the improvements they have shown this year.
It will not, however, be the first time the man known affectionately as 'Thor' has faced the Stormers since coming back to Super Rugby. He started the tournament opener at Loftus were the Bulls hammered coach Robbie Fleck's men 40-3.
The Bulls go into Saturday's clash top of the South African conference, though they are just four points ahead of the Stormers, who are bottom.
It sets up for what could be a potentially explosive battle at Newlands.
As Springbok and Stormers skipper Siya Kolisi said on Thursday: "South African derbies are much tougher than playing a New Zealand team, so I'm looking forward to this one."
Kolisi will be wearing the No 6 jersey for the Stormers on Saturday and the focus on the breakdown where Vermeulen will be joined by the highly-rated Marco van Staden is an area commanding a lot of pre-match attention.
"We've got our players who can do the same thing," Fleck said.
"We'll see how we go at the breakdown this weekend. The Springbok captain is in the No 6 position and he knows how to handle those situations and so do the rest of the guys. We're happy with out combinations there."
While Kolisi denies that this fixture will be about revenge given what happened in the opening week, he acknowledges that it will be personal.
The focus, however, will not be on Vermeulen.
"I know Duane and he is the same week in and week out," Kolisi said.
"That kind of stuff I don't think even plays in his head. He's very professional so he will come guns blazing like does every single weekend. He won't worry about that.
"Every game for us is personal. It's not because Duane is here, it's just that when it's a South African team it's a bit tougher.
Kick-off is at 15:05 .
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Seabelo Senatla
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw
Read this report on News24Wire.com.
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