Bok coach Erasmus’ decision to deploy Willemse at flyhalf against the Pumas was no ruse
Rassie Erasmus’ decision to deploy Damian Willemse at flyhalf when he came on as a second half substitute against the Pumas was no ruse.
It had been widely expected that Willemse would go to fullback in the place of Willie le Roux but with the match still in the balance after the hour mark‚ the coach went for what he believed was the safer option.
He explained that he still needed Le Roux’s experience in the back three alongside green horn wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi.
He couldn’t replace Handre Pollard with Willemse either so instead he curtailed inside centre Andre Esterhuizen’s activity‚ moved Pollard to second receiver which paved the way for Willemse at flyhalf.
“The coach spoke to me at half time‚” said Willemse about the decision to slot in at 10.
“He said to me the game is tight and he’s going to put me on at 10. I got myself ready for that.”
Once in the thick of things‚ Willemse had a bit of a mixed bag. His debut might well be remembered for the horror pass he threw that led to an intercept try for Matias Moroni
“These things happen‚” the 20-year-old said coolly.
“It is fixable. I’m just glad I got a run. It is not a big sweat for me. Obviously it is not the ideal start for me. Not the start I wanted or the team wanted. I’m just glad I got a cap.”
Willemse has been earmarked as a future star. He has the raw talent but he has also displayed maturity beyond his 20 years.
“It is simple. Wake up tomorrow morning‚ the sun will shine and I just keep on working hard. I just want to stay in the moment‚" he said.
“It is important to outwork and out learn them. I try and learn from other players. Take it all‚ throw it in one basket‚ shake it up and see what we come up with.
“You need a mature flyhalf or a quarterback. That maturity is important.”
Willemse sees his future at flyhalf but is happy to slot in where needed.
“I’m a flyhalf. I prefer flyhalf. I’m available to play anywhere the coach picks me.”
While Willemse might have had some mixed emotions‚ Man of the match Aphiwe Dyantyi continues to ride the crest of the wave.
Dyantyi‚ who ran in two tries against the Pumas‚ has seen improvement in the Bok set-up since he joined their ranks earlier this year.
“Considering we have just played three Tests under coach Rassie I think we are gelling really well‚" he said.
"Every game we keep on building.”
Dyantyi could have completed a hat trick but opted to pass the opportunity by offloading to Makazole Mapimpi in the second half.
“I felt he was in a better position to score‚” Dyantyi said succinctly.
“For me the most important thing is us getting the result.
"It doesn’t help if I score 50 tries and we lose all of those games.
"If I can score two tries in 20 games and we win all of them that is more important.”