'It was his choice' to go on tour: Why Stormers' Damian Willemse is not part of rested Bok core

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Damian Willemse. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Damian Willemse. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

The Stormers have a simple reason for why influential Springbok star Damian Willemse is on tour for their United Rugby Championship (URC) sojourn while some of the national players have been left in Cape Town. 

While Willemse - who recently signed a contract extension with the Stormers - is not the only Springbok currently with the Stormers squad for their matches against Zebre, Ospreys and Cardiff, he was part of the last group that arrived back from camp, consisting of the likes of the rested Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Joseph Dweba and Deon Fourie.

"The guys that have stayed behind have played quite a lot of rugby for the Springboks," Stormers defence coach Norman Laker told reporters on Wednesday.

Added to that, Laker said, is the fact that those players have done a lot of travelling.

"They're human beings and need rest like the rest of us. It's also to ensure that when we get back [from tour] we have the freshest players possible. It's also important in terms of player safety."

Willemse, who recently returned from concussion, made it into the 28-man travelling team and with the unfolding crisis in the national team at flyhalf, it was curious why he was included.

"That was his choice ... [he said] he would like to play," Laker responded.

"He asked to be part of the tour and he would like to be part of the squad and play some rugby."

Laker said the forwards - in particular props Kitshoff and Malherbe - take on a lot during a game: scrums, lineouts and mauls. These factors make their rests in this first part of the tournament warranted.

The Stormers will name their side for Saturday's clash on Friday, with the game kicking off at 16:00 (SA time).

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