With one World Cup win and two Currie Cup titles to his name, Duane Vermeulen has proved he's got big-game mentality.

With Ulster’s last major success coming in the Celtic League win in 2006, there aren’t many of the current crop who are used to picking up silverware.

So, ahead of a URC semi-final clash against the Stormers, does the Springboks number 8 pipe up a bit more than usual?

"I won’t really say that but yeah, I would like to contribute," the 35-year-old told RTÉ Sport.

"I know the South African mentality and the way the teams play and as a South African when you go into big play-off games it’s a different mentality, so I tend to say a little bit more but you don’t want to take the whole floor over.

"It’s a team sport and everybody contributes. I must say it’s been great in training and in the meetings, everyone has a fair share of input towards our game and how we want to play."

His two Currie Cup wins came with the Free State in 2007 and with Western Province in 2012. He was, of course, a central part of the Springboks side that won the Webb Ellis in 2019.

Asked if he had spotted particular patterns in these winning teams, something immediately sprang to mind.

"I think there are specific traits," said Vermeulen, who played with the Stormers between 2009 and 2015.

"When it comes to down quarters, semi-finals, finals, simplicity is the key, you don’t have to be extravagant, you just have to do the basics right and when you get opportunity to score or get points on the board it's the main thing. Obviously, not giving away too many penalties.

"We were a bit short throughout the season with the way we played, couldn't really put in an 80-minute performance and in the latter part of the tournament it felt like the guys were understanding that we can't just rest on our laurels and we’ve got to keep pushing.

"Last weekend [the 36-17 win over Munster] was a good example for us but there’s another game against the Stormers that lies ahead and hopefully we keep going."

Ulster, meanwhile, have confirmed that they had no injury concerns after Friday's game but that full-back Mike Lowry has undergone facial surgery and won’t return this season, while his availability for Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand is uncertain.


Watch highlights of the weekend's URC games on Against the Head, 8.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.

Follow Leinster v Bulls (Friday 7.35pm) and Stormers v Ulster (Saturday 2pm) via our live blogs on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News app. Listen to live commentary of Leinster v Bulls on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra and updates from Stormers v Ulster on Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1.