Springboks

Bok star Kolbe on Damian Willemse's match-winning performance: 'He'll get even better!'

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Cheslin Kolbe. (Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
Cheslin Kolbe. (Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
  • Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe marvelled at Damian Willemse's match-winning contributions in the triumph against Wales on Saturday.
  • The Boks beat the Welsh 32-29, with Willemse's 82nd minute penalty settling the outcome of the game.
  • Kolbe admitted their first 20 minutes in the game was a thoroughly disappointing period of play.

Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe had a ground-level view of Damian Willemse's game-breaking display against Wales at Loftus Versfeld, and it reminded him of the dominant tyro who owned schools rugby in the Western Province region.

Kolbe, who went to Brackenfell and played Craven Week in 2011, was a bit before Willemse but had seen enough of the lanky utility back to realise he'll be an important player in later life.

Willemse was still 19 when Kolbe left the Stormers, but they were both World Cup winners in 2019. Willemse finally shed his international shell with a commanding performance that helped SA see off Wales 32-29 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

MATCH REPORT | Willemse sparks second-half magic to save Boks from embarrassing first home defeat against Wales

Willemse contributed seven points to the win, including the last-minute penalty that broke Welsh hearts, with Kolbe saying that he has always been an incredible player.

"He's been an incredible player since he left school, and he's developed very quickly and very well," Kolbe said.

"He was 18, coming out of school and he was thrown into the deep end. It's great to see how he's matured and got to grips with the experience of playing at the highest level.

"He's still young and he's still learning, but there's a lot more that he can offer to South African rugby, so I was excited with his performance.

READ | Wales show heart but Willemse brings character as dastardly Boks do them in again

"I'm sure he'll improve and get even better."

Kolbe's try was part of SA's 28-point second-half assault that saw them overturn an 18-3 half-time deficit.

He admitted the Springboks were not at the races for the better part of the first half and they needed a few harsh words to get their act in order.

"We'll stick to what we trained on during the week and I'll agree, the first 20 minutes, we probably weren't on par with the way we wanted to play," Kolbe said.

ALSO READ | Bok coach Nienaber defends Elton Jantjies first-half horror show

"We just needed to believe in what we needed to do on the field. We looked each other in the eyes and agreed the first half wasn't good enough at all.

"We knew it and we could feel it as well. There were a few harsh words from the coaches, but we're all grown-up men and want to make each other proud on the field."

A crowd of 51762 initially watched in disbelief as Wales looked to be the first Northern Hemisphere nation to win at Loftus Versfeld in 28 years before it all unravelled in the second half.

When the crowd warmed to the Boks' fightback, they even started chanting Kolbe's name, something the diminutive winger admitted to not hearing because of the intense nature of the game.

Kolbe though was grateful for how the crowd recognised and respected the occasion.

"It was amazing to be playing in front of a packed stadium. It's been two and a half years since we managed to do that," Kolbe said.

"We are grateful for the support we received. Hopefully, we can make them proud and play a brand of rugby they'll continue to support."

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