- Local rugby's recent Covid troubles has once again highlighted the sacrifices players need to make to keep the domestic programme going.
- No player exemplifies those sacrifices better than Bulls skipper Duane Vermeulen, who's been living in the hotel next to Loftus and not commuting from the Cape, all in the name of serving his team.
- This weekend's trip to Newlands is a chance for him to catch up with family, but it's also lighted a fire for him to perform at his old home-ground.
Local rugby's recent spike in Covid-19 infections has prompted SA Rugby to once again re-emphasise health and safety protocols at unions.
Some coaches, notably Western Province mentor John Dobson, have also continually pleaded with his players to make certain sacrifices in the name of keeping the domestic programme going.
And if that's not enough of a push, everyone can take inspiration from one of the men who've made bigger sacrifices than the rest: Duane Vermeulen.
Jake White, the Bulls' director of rugby, once again hailed his veteran Springbok's influence on his burgeoning team, pointing out how Vermeulen has just knuckled down and got on with his responsibilities.
"It goes without saying how important he's been for us," said White.
"Duane's played 80 minutes per game all the way. He's not staying with his family, who are down in the Cape. His kids obviously go to school, so he doesn't get to see them as much as he would like.
"He’s come in here, he’s given 100%, lives in the hotel (next to Loftus). He’s here all the time, he doesn’t fly up and down. What more can you want from a guy? He’s there, he’s fronting up."
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Substitutes (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Kwenzo Blose, 19 Neethling Fouche, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Chris van Zyl, 22 Jaco Coetzee, 23 Marcel Theunissen, 24 Godlen Masimla, 25 Tim Swiel, 26 Ruhan Nel
15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren
It's that inspirational attitude that made Vermeulen such an obvious choice to become Bulls skipper.
"He knows it’s important that he’s got to show the team that he’s in. We had some stern talks with lots of players about the fact that if you want to stay at the Bulls, you’ve got to show that you are committed.
"And I can’t question that. No one can question that. I think the team sees just how committed he is," said White.
As "reward" for his efforts, the 34-year-old will be able to catch up with family this weekend ahead of spicy Currie Cup clash with Western Province at Newlands.
Yet that happy prospect also means he's pumped to perform at a ground he knows so well.
"This is the best he’s ever felt in a long time. He says he can’t wait to get to Newlands and play against Western Province. He knows the ground well and he’s got an added energy this week," said White.
"I’m not sure why, he’s probably going home to see his family a bit. He’s going to play at Newlands. He knows all those players, and it’s the best I’ve seen him and the most fired-up I’ve seen him in a long time.
"He knows this is the big one at Newlands, and there’s obviously a lot of Springboks that are playing this weekend and he wants to play well against them. There are a lot of added incentives for him to really put a performance on."
Kick-off at Newlands is at 19:00.