Super Rugby

Willemse 'trying too hard' but Stormers coach not perturbed

Damian Willemse (Gallo)
Damian Willemse (Gallo)

Cape Town - Stormers coach John Dobson is not concerned by the form of flyhalf Damian Willemse.

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Willemse's performances have been a hot topic of discussion in recent weeks, with the Stormers pivot struggling at times to get his backline firing on attack.

The Stormers currently top the overall Super Rugby standings, however their unbeaten start to the season can be attributed to a dominant forward pack and a staunch defensive system.

Dobson addressed reporters at the team's High Performance Centre in Bellville on Tuesday where he agreed with the notion that the young Springbok may be trying too hard to impress.

However, the coach made it clear that he was not worried over the future prospects of his highly-rated No 10.

"If there's any error it's definitely that," Dobson said when asked whether Willemse was trying too hard. "It's certainly not the other way 'round. It's not like he doesn't care or doesn't practice. He probably overdoes it and beats himself up too much."

Dobson pointed to the 1.87m and 90kg Willemse's physicality as sometimes proving to his detriment.

"He's overly physical sometimes. A flyhalf like Demetri Catrakilis (from the Southern Kings) is never on the ground... Damian's getting tackled five or six times a game which is a problem for our team's attack.

"And I think we need to be better there with alternating him and Dillyn (Leyds) at first receiver. But we're only four games into a Super Rugby season with a 21-year-old, so I'm not too fussed about the bigger picture, because of the work ethic that he's got."

There have been calls in some quarters for Jean-Luc du Plessis to get a run as starting flyhalf, and while Dobson said he was impressed by the former's recent performances, that is unlikely to happen this Saturday against the Blues.

"The problem for me more is the fact that Jean-Luc has made a difference every single time he's come on. And that's more a pressure point than any doubts I've got of Damian. Jean-Luc is showing much more composure.

"We're probably under-playing Jean-Luc but we want to get Damian confident and into shape. Jean-Luc's had his days (with injuries)... but there's a new-look Jean-Luc out there which is quite exciting for us," Dobson concluded.

The Stormers team will be named on Thursday, with Saturday’s match at Newlands scheduled for 15:05.

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