Rassie backs decision to play Willemse at No 12

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

Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus likes the idea of Damian Willemse playing at No 12 in Saturday's Currie Cup final.

The 20-year-old, who has earned three Test caps in 2018, while start at inside centre against the Sharks at Newlands in a move that came as a surprise when John Dobson named his side for the clash. 

Dobson has spoken in recent weeks about how he rates Willemse as one of the best flyhalves in the country, while Erasmus is on record saying that he sees Willemse's immediate Bok future at fullback. 

But while Dobson believes that moving Willemse to centre is his best bet of winning a second Currie Cup in as many years, Erasmus was quick to squash any thoughts of that being a move that he was considering at a Springbok level. 

He does, however, like the idea. 

"I think you can look at it in two ways," Erasmus said.

"You can look at it as very clever. Aaron Mauger, Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett ... they all played there. You can say you're buggering a guy around, or you can say that you're phasing a young guy into senior, provincial, franchise and eventually Springbok rugby.

"The more you play in different positions, the more you get used to how the opposition is thinking in different positions.

"Last year he played No 15 in a Currie Cup final and won it, so it would be unbelievable if he played No 12 and won it too.

"I don't think it's messing around with his future."

Erasmus explained that World Cup plans were already at a stage too advanced to consider moving Willemse into midfield. 

With Willie le Roux out of the November 3 Test against England at Twickenham due to club commitments, Willemse is the favourite to start at fullback.

"No, not in the near future between now and the World Cup," Erasmus said of the possibility of playing Willemse at No 12. 

"We've got great inside centres.

"Damian has got a very good chance of going to this World Cup if he keeps on performing, but I think the nice thing is that if you look four years down the track to have a guy like that who has won three or four Currie Cups and played a few different positions ... what a player he would be to take to the next World Cup."

Erasmus will name his squad for the end-of-year tour after Saturday's Currie Cup final. 

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