Can Williams take the gap?
The Stormers are hoping that Devon Williams will be able to give the Cheetahs a bit of their own medicine in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Stormers are hoping that wing Devon Williams will be able to give the Cheetahs a bit of their own medicine in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The young flyer will start his first Super Rugby game at the Free State Stadium this weekend after coming off the bench against the Lions at Newlands, and both coach Allister Coetzee and captain Jean de Villiers seem excited about the 'x-factor' he has to offer.
Williams has proven himself a deadly finisher at Under-21 and Vodacom Cup level for Western Province, and Coetzee said that his promotion to the Stormers starting line-up in place of the injured Sailosi Tagicakibau was justified given his impressive form.
"Devon [Williams] have proven himself in the Under-21 competition last year and he is the top tryscorer this year in the Vodacom Cup as well so it is a great opportunity and it shows that when you do well you will be rewarded with an opportunity in the system.
"I think Devon has settled in nicely and came off the bench last week so we are all looking forward to see him play this weekend," he said.
Although he is not the biggest player at 1.74 metres and 73 kg, Williams has got plenty of pace to burn and certainly knows his way to the tryline as his scoring record attests.
De Villiers is not concerned about his size, and expects him to provide the kind of spark that players like Gio Aplon and Cheslin Kolbe have offered in recent times.
"The thing that makes rugby such a special sport is that all shapes and sizes can play the game. I think the way that Gio has performed over the years has shown that. Devon has been performing now and Cheslin [Kolbe] is in the same mould.
"If you are good enough you are old enough and young enough but also you are big enough and small enough. He has shown what he can do and now it is his opportunity to show what he can do at Super Rugby level from a starting point and we are backing him as a team and he is very confident," said the Stormers skipper.
Coetzee said that apart from his pace and finishing ability, Williams also adds an option as a left-footed kicker.
"Devon is an exciting winger and given the opportunity I am sure he will finish. He has got the pace and a good left boot as well. So it is similar to what we had with Gio [Aplon] with a left footed option that he brings to the team.
"This guy in broken field can punish teams, if you saw the try he scored in the Vodacom Cup game against Boland - he has got a bit of an x-factor and I hope that Jean [De Villiers] and Juan [De Jongh] will be able to create space for him and put him in gaps," he said.
De Villiers joked that although he went to his school Paarl Gim's big rivals Paarl Boys High, Williams has clearly got what it takes to make it as Super Rugby level.
"Besides him coming from the wrong school in Paarl I think he has done really well. He has got blistering pace and that is something that you can't coach, he has been scoring a helluva lot of tries at U21 and Vodacom Cup level and he has slotted into the squad with quite a lot of ease.
"He has got a bit of x-factor and he is looking to put up a big performance this weekend and as a team we are backing him to do so," he added.
Whilst a lack of resources at wing may have given Williams his break somewhat prematurely, he will certainly add some enthusiasm and intent to the Stormers' attack and may well be afforded some space by the Cheetahs defence.
With Kolbe due to come into contention for selection next week this match against the Cheetahs is Williams' chance to show he can contend with the Sevens star for a starting spot.
By Michael de Vries