Willemse needs to be given the freedom to express himselfFebruary 19, 2018
YOUNG Stormers star, Damian Willemse, is one of the most exciting players in SA rugby at the moment. The former Paul Roos learner played a pivotal role in the Cape side’s 28-20 victory over the Jaguares in their opening Super Rugby clash at Newlands on Saturday.
The 19 year old Willemse looked threatening with ball in hand, made a couple of line breaks, kicked a few good goals and generally had a strong game. Match statistics show that he made an impressive 84 running metres, made 3 clean breaks and beat 6 defenders while doing so. He also added 13 points with the boot via 2 conversions and 3 penalties. However, he will be livid that one of his conversions was charged down and he also made one other blunder when he kicked the ball directly into touch after the ball was taken back into the Stormers’ 22.
Willemse also didn’t take a step back from the big Argentinian forwards and made 11 tackles and missed none. Only lock JD Schickerling and eigthman Nizaam Carr (14 each) made more tackles than the young fly half.
Injury to Jean-Luc du Plessis and the departure of Robert du Preez to Durban have opened the door for Willemse to become the first choice number ten for Robbie Fleck’s team this season.
The Strand born Willemse now has the opportunity to make the jersey his own and settle down in the pivot position. He has all the attributes to become a Newlands legend but he needs to backed and be given the freedom to play his own natural, running game. He will make mistakes, all ex-factor players do from time to time, but with his magnificent step, supreme offloading skills and explosive pace, he will win you more games than he will lose.
His kicking game will continue to improve and so will his game management but that will all come with experience. He is in the fortunate position of playing between Damian de Allende and Dewaldt Duvenhage at the moment and the experience either side of him will help him immensely.
De Allende showed glimpses of the player he was in 2015 whilst Schickerling, Cobus Wiese and Carr had good games up front. Captain, Siya Kolisi looked a bit rusty but scored a magnificent try when he showed great strength and a turn of speed to cross the white wash in the first half.
The back three consisting of new recruit, Raymond Rhule, Seabelo Senatla and Dillyn Leyds looked full of running but should be given more time to click.
The Stormers face the Warahtahs in Sydney on Saturday (10h45 am SA time) then travel to New Zealand to face the Crusaders and the Highlanders in Christchurch and Dunedin on consecutive weekends. They have been boosted by the return of one of their Springbok locks, Pieter-Steph du Toit from injury while fullback SP Marais and JJ Engelbrecht, on his return to Cape Town, was also on the plane to Australasia. Loose forward, Sikhumbuzo Notshe also return after doing duty for the Blitzboks.