Willemse to play flyhalf this weekend?

20 August 2019 - 12:39 By Craig Ray
Damian Willemse of South Africa during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Jonsson Kings Park on August 18, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Damian Willemse of South Africa during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Jonsson Kings Park on August 18, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Western Province utility back Damian Willemse trained at flyhalf on Monday for their must-win final Currie Cup pool match against the Free State Cheetahs this weekend.

Willemse‚ 20‚ only returned from a long-term knee injury during last Friday’s 27-23 loss against Griquas in Kimberley.

Playing fullback‚ Willemse saw 30 minutes’ of action‚ and he looked sharp and comfortable.

With Dillyn Leyds’ return from the Springboks after doing duty against Argentina last weekend‚ the WP fullback position is likely to fall to the Leyds.


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Given WP’s need to secure a bonus point for scoring four tries or more against the Cheetahs‚ coach John Dobson is likely to employ all his best attacking weapons from the start – and that means Willemse.

Assistant coach Norman Laker gave nothing away when asked if Willemse was ready to start a match after such a long lay-off.

“We are still not sure if he can start‚ and we have to wait for the medical staff’s decision‚” Laker ventured.

“But we took a lot of confidence and positives from Willemse’s return last week. He was only allowed to play 30 minutes because of the long-term injury he had and he certainly used those minutes well.”

Looking at the way the team trained it seemed likely that Willemse’s talents would be unleashed from the start in Bloemfontein‚ although it’s unlikely he will play the entire match.

Flyhalf has been problematic for WP‚ with neither Jean-Luc du Plessis nor Josh Stander dominating the position.

Willemse spent most of Super Rugby at fullback at the request of Bok coach Rassie Erasmus‚ but WP and Stormers 2020 coach John Dobson has said that Willemse’s future at the union‚ is at flyhalf.

WP also welcomed back new Test hooker Scarra Ntubeni‚ who became Springbok No 915 when he took the field at Loftus Versfeld during the Boks 24-18 win over the Pumas last weekend.

Tighthead Wilco Louw also returned to training alongside Leyds but Laker confirmed that looseforward Jaco Coetzee would not be ready to play this weekend.

The abrasive back rower has not fully recovered from a shoulder injury that has plagued him since the latter stages of Super Rugby.

“Scarra‚ Dillyn Leyds and Wilco bring a lot of energy to the team. It’s great to have them back for this weekend‚” Laker said.

‘Jaco unfortunately won’t be fit.”

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