Springboks star Vermeulen seals Japan move

Instead of playing for the Springboks during the Rugby Championship, Duane Vermeulen will be turning out for Kubota Spears in Japan. BackpagePix

Following the England series Duane Vermeulen was evasive when asked why he was not available for South Africa during the Rugby Championship, but the reason has now been revealed after he was unveiled by Japanese side Kubota Spears.

The former Stormers and Toulon loose-forward was superb as the Springboks defeated England 2-1 in their June home series, but announced later that he would not be available to play in the Southern Hemisphere championship.

This was agreed to by Bok coach Rassie Erasmus, who will be looking to fit-again Warren Whiteley to fill the void left by the 42-times capped Vermeulen during his stint in the Japan Top League, which kicks off on 31 August.

"I am honoured and grateful to be a member of the Kubota family and looking forward to joining the Spears," Vermeulen was quoted on the Spears website.

Erasmus may look at the move as good experience for Nelspruit-born Vermeulen -- who turns 32 on 3 July -- ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Spears are coached by former Bulls coach Frans Ludeke and have a number of South Africans on their books, including current skipper of the Pretoria-based side, Burger Odendaal.