Springbok fans will be well aware that being the best rugby player in the world does not automatically mean you will be crowned as such. In 2009, Bok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez was by far the best candidate to win the award. The number 9 ensured that South Africa not only beat the British and Irish Lions but also win the Tri-Nations, beating New Zealand three times in a row. Yet, the IRB decided to give the IRB Player of the Year award to All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, a great player but not deserving of the accolade in 2009.
With that in mind many Springbok supporters will be fearing a repeat performance by the IRB. The gut feel is that the IRB will reward the All Blacks for their long period of dominance over the last few years by giving the award to someone like Brodie Retallick or Aaron Smith. And while both those players have had great seasons, Vermeulen – nicknamed ‘Thor’ because of his likeness to actor Chris Hemsworth – has been playing rugby that is out of this world. Thunderous with ball in hand and on defence, brilliant at the lineout and a master at poaching ball at the breakdown he has simply been the most influential player in the world. Will the IRB panel, who often seems to go for reputation over current form agree, though?