Duane's return reunites terrifying World Cup-winning Bok back trio: 'The timing's perfect'

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  • Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was champing at the bit to see what the back row reunion with Duane Vermeulen and Pieter-Steph du Toit would deliver.
  • The trident last played together in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England in Yokohama, Japan.
  • Vermeulen returns from knee surgery against the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday for his first Test this year.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was champing at the bit to see what the back row reunion with Duane Vermeulen and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who last played together in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama, will deliver against the All Blacks this weekend.

Eighthman Vermeulen will play his first international this season after undergoing corrective knee surgery at the end of the United Rugby Championship.

The dynamite trio, armed to the nines with physicality, brawn and rugby IQ, has missed at least one member since the defeat of England in Japan, with Vermeulen and Du Toit suffering injuries at various junctures last year.

Nick Mallett | Intensity, accuracy of Bok defence leaves limping All Blacks with few options

Now they've returned in what is an ominous pack against New Zealand, who suffered in the forward battle in Mbombela last weekend.

"I actually didn't realise it. I thought we played together [in that time] because I played with Du Toit during the Lions series but Duane was injured then," Siya said.

"We found out earlier in the week, I think, but nothing has changed for us. It's the same game plan as we had during the World Cup and we expect the same from each other.

"I'm looking forward to it but it doesn't matter who I'm playing with; I have to deliver the same performance and make sure my job doesn't change.

"But having someone like Duane in the team, with that kind of experience, in an important game against the All Blacks, I need as many brains as I can have around me on the field."

Kolisi said Vermeulen and Du Toit had an uncanny ability to bounce straight back to the pace of international matches after layoffs and didn't need time to get warm.

"I'm keen to see what Duane can do because he hasn't played a lot. I know he doesn't need a lot of games to get back into it. He's one of those guys," the skipper said.

"There are just some rugby players who need to go home and play a club game and come back but some guys can just do, like Pieter-Steph too. Sometimes I need five games to get my game right.

"Pieter-Steph is back but it feels like he was never injured, the way he's going on the field."

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick was also eager to view the world-class reunion that's up against Ardie Savea, Sam Cane and Shannon Frizell.

"We are in a good position as a team to have such experience and leadership in that loose trio," Stick beamed.

"I think Jasper Wiese grabbed his opportunity with both hands. He's been massive and worked really hard and has had a massive impact on the game.

"But an experienced guy like Duane coming back from his injury in a big game … he's done it for us before.

"We are in a fortunate position as a coaching staff. The stress we have is good stress because there's lots of competition in those positions.

"It's perfect timing for Duane to come back against the All Blacks."

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