Dobson: Willemse one of SA's best flyhalves

Damian Willemse (Gallo Images)
Damian Willemse (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Damian Willemse is one of the country's most highly-rated young rugby players.

Speed, natural skill, stepping ability and a big, accurate boot all combine to make the 20-year-old hot property for both the Stormers and the Springboks in the years to come. 

Willemse already has three Test caps to his name, and he showed just a glimpse of what he can offer with ball in hand after coming off the bench in the Boks' 32-30 loss to New Zealand at Loftus this past weekend. 

Since the begining of the Rugby Championship, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has been keen to give Willemse a run at fullback. 

Wille le Roux's superb form has left little opportunity for Willemse, while Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies have flyhalf covered. 

This weekend, though, Willemse will be back in the No 10 jersey when he starts for Western Province in the final round of Currie Cup round robin fixtures. 

WP are in Pretoria for a date with the Blue Bulls, and victory will see them secure top spot on the tournament log and home ground advantage for the playoffs. 

In the clash against Griquas on September 22, Willemse had started at fullback for WP after a request from Erasmus. 

But with the Rugby Championship now over, coach John Dobson is free to use his players how he sees fit and there is no doubt in his mind that Willemse's best position is flyhalf.

"It wasn't too difficult because there was no imperative from SA Rugby," Dobson explained at Newlands on Thursday after announcing his side.

"Dillyn Leyds has been outstanding (at fullback).

"I agree with the expirement of Damian at No 15, but to me he's one of the best 10s in the country."

The selection does mean that Josh Stander misses out this weekend, which is a tough one given that he has been impressive in guiding WP to five straight wins so far.

"Damian Willemse is always going to be in our team, and Dillyn Leyds is always going to be in our team," Dobson said.

"There wasn't much room for maneuver and Josh is carrying three or four soft tissues (injuries) at the moment.

"I think next week when we get to playoff rugby it's going to be a harder conversation than this week.

"He (Stander) has been outstanding and he's kept the team going forward nicely."

Wing SP Marais, meanwhile, will continue with the goal-kicking responsibilities. 

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:15.


Blue Bulls

15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Nic de Jager, 20 Embrose Papier, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Dylan Sage

Western Province

15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 SP Marais, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.

Substitutes: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Josh Stander

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