Praise to a creative player

2014-06-29 15:00

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Wallabies great David Campese says Willie le Roux is the X-factor in the Springbok side and has encouraged coach Heyneke Meyer to select more players of the exciting fullback’s ilk.

Campese, whose unorthodox attacking style made him the player of the tournament at the 1991 rugby World Cup, says Le Roux has added a much-needed extra dimension to the way the Boks play. But he warned “the Boks would be in trouble if they were to lose him because all the creativity in the team is coming from him. He is the only one keeping other teams guessing”.

He added: “There is no doubt that, without him, the Boks would not have beaten Wales in the second test.”

According to Campese, it was “very unusual to see a player with the flair and unpredictability of Le Roux in the Springbok setup”. He urged Meyer to bring in others with Le Roux’s ability to seek out space and outwit opponents.

“I would like to see the introduction of a clever, passing inside centre to the Bok side [Campese played much of his test rugby with Tim Horan in the midfield]. Imagine how much more dangerous that would make Le Roux?

“What I like about him is that he tries things; he challenges himself. That’s what sets the All Blacks apart – they test themselves all the time.”

Someone else who is delighted with the impact Le Roux has had since making his debut in June last year is his former teacher and first team coach at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, Frans van Niekerk.

“He just has so much natural skill and creativity, and kudos to Heyneke Meyer for not putting him in a box but letting him have his head,” said Van Niekerk.

Le Roux, playing at fly half, was a junior in a team that contained Springbok scrum half Francois Hougaard and Lions fullback Coenie van Wyk.

The schoolmaster said while Le Roux was blessed with an innate bent for the game, his flashes of brilliance came from hours of hard work.

“A lot of credit is due to one of our coaches, Dawie Snyman [son of former Springbok fly half Jackie Snyman], who had the boys spend hours and hours perfecting their running, passing and kicking skills.

“Willie is an instinctive player with a knack for summing up and exploiting what he sees in front of him, but his skills were drilled into him on our fields. He has very good hands and feet, as you can see with his superb use of the chip kick. That’s not accidental. He worked at it. He was one of those boys who always seemed to have a ball in his hands.

“One thing he possesses, which we saw in the test against Wales and which is often a weakness in our back line players, is the ability to throw a pinpoint miss-out pass off his left hand.

“For Willie, rugby is an adventure and he enjoys every minute of playing. It’s been nice for me to see that enthusiasm rubbing off on his team-mates,” added Van Niekerk.

In spite of his talent and playing for a top school, Le Roux was not picked for Western Province’s Craven Week side and, like Hougaard and Handré Pollard, was also not drawn into the province’s nursery.

He eventually made his way to national prominence via Boland, Griquas and the Cheetahs.

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