Cape Town - Springbok No 8 Warren Whiteley says he does not want to be compared to team-mate Duane Vermeulen.
“He is a very special player. He does something that many eighthmen can’t do. (But) I’m not trying to fulfil that role. I play in my own way,” Whiteley told Netwerk24 in Brisbane on Monday.
Whiteley has started in the No 8 jersey in South Africa’s opening two Rugby Championship matches while Vermeulen is on club duty in Japan.
Vermeulen featured in the Boks’ 2-1 series victory over England in June but was allowed to leave for the Rugby Championship and play for the Kubota Spears.
Whiteley, who is again expect to wear the Springbok No 8 jersey when they tackle the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday, added that his sole focus was on improving his own game.
“I don’t compare myself to anyone. It’s now the fifth or sixth match after my injuries. I’m really starting to feel good again, especially in the last two matches. My body’s feeling good. I’m just going to push myself to keep getting better.”
There was talk late last month that Bok coach Rassie Erasmus was looking to have Vermeulen available for the Test against the All Blacks in Wellington next weekend (September 15). This was likely due to injuries to loose forwards Cyle Brink and Jean-Luc du Preez messing with Erasmus' plans, with the coach initially planning on tackling the Rugby Championship without Vermeulen.
However, the Boks have not announced anything official regarding a return for Vermeulen.
The burly No 8 will be available for the Springboks’ year-end tour to Europe.