Willemse gets his chance to shine with Stormers

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 08:03

REACTION: Young flyhalf Damian Willemse will get a chance to show what he is made of at Super Rugby level when the Stormers take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Warren Fortune reports.

The 19-year-old will make his first start for the Cape side at the Free State Stadium after recently representing the Junior Boks at the Under-20 World Championship in Georgia.

With first-choice flyhalves Jean-Luc du Plessis and Robert du Preez out for the rest of the Super Rugby season, Willemse could cement his place in the starting side during the next three weeks leading up to the play-offs.

"Damian is a youngster in our system who's done phenomenally well over the past 12 months," said Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck.

"It is quite freakish to think that he was playing schoolboy rugby last year. He had a very good pre-season for us. We've been grooming him for an opportunity this year. He obviously played well for SA Under-20s as well. 

"Going into the backend of the competition we feel this is the perfect opportunity for us to have a look at him in the starting position and we are certainly excited to see how he goes."

After testing Dillyn Leyds in the No.10 role in the win against the Blues and then Kurt Coleman in the loss against the Sharks, Fleck is eager to see if Willemse has the big-match temperament with the play-offs drawing nearer. 

"We want to have a look at him. He has come off the bench for us and he has played in the pre-season, but we groomed him in other positions and played him a little bit at fullback and a little bit at flyhalf - he played a bit at 12 for SA U20s. 

"We need to have a look at our options going forward. Kurt [Coleman] played in the last game against the Sharks and we know what we got in [Brandon] Thomson.

"Obviously Rob [Robert du Preez] and JL [Jean-Luc du Plessis] are out, so we've had a go with Dillyn against the Blues and we were quite satisfied with his performance there.

"It is allowing him [Willemse] an opportunity, but it is also and opportunity for us to see if we can go into the latter part of the competition with him," Fleck added.

Willemse will also have some experienced players around him to take some of the pressure off.

"Having Jano Vermaak on his inside and then both [Shaun] Treeby and then Juan de Jongh [on the outside], it certainly makes a difference. "Also with SP [Sarel] Marais at the back with his left boot and his decisions. It is their role to take the pressure off Damian. 

"I think if Damian is given that green light to play his natural game, I think he could be quite dangerous for us, but certainly those guys have a big role to play in order to free him up," said Fleck.

By Warren Fortune


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Sun, 22 October 2017
Montpellier v Exeter Chiefs 12h00 Altrad Stadium
La Rochelle v Ulster 14h15 Paris
Wasps v Harlequins 16h30 Ricoh Arena
Fri, 27 October 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Kings 18h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs 18h45 AJ Bell Stadium
Ospreys v Dragons 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Munster 19h35 Sportsground
Sat, 28 October 2017
Treviso v Edinburgh 14h00 Stadio Monigo
Harlequins v Worcester Warriors 14h00 Twickenham
Saracens v London Irish 14h00 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Wasps 14h00 Franklin's Gardens
Sharks v Western Province 14h00 Kings Park, Durban
Ulster v Leinster 17h15 Kingspan Stadium
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Zebre v Cheetahs 19h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28