Damian Willemse is under no pressure to be the primary goal-kicker on the Springboks’ end-of-year tour.
The highly talented Willemse announced himself as an exciting prospect in the green-and-gold No 10 jumper during the Rugby Championship, teeing him up as the first-choice flyhalf for the Boks’ upcoming four Tests in Europe.
Yet, his perceived lack of goal-kicking accuracy could see Johan Goosen, a more recognised goal-kicker, leapfrog the DHL Stormers star as a safer option.
Willemse, though, is invaluable in the context of the match 23 for the Boks, and Mzwandile Stick says scrumhalves Faf de Klerk and Jaden Hendrikse can help ease the load for the 24-year-old playmaker.
“Maybe Damian Willemse will be our first-choice flyhalf, but there’s no rule that you have to wear No 10 on your back to be able to kick for poles,” said the Bok assistant coach, who will also oversee two midweek matches for the SA A against Munster and the Bristol Bears.
“There are a lot of guys in the camp now … we know a guy like Jaden Hendrikse has done it and he has been practising, and we’ve got Faf who has also kicked [for goal].
“We’ve got a couple of guys during our camp who have been practising kicking for posts. So on the day, let’s say for example if we decide Jaden Hendrikse is on song, Gaza doesn’t have to kick for poles.
“You see Argentina, the best kicker currently in the world [Emiliano Boffelli] is playing at wing, but that guy is proper.
“I don’t want us as coaches, and even the supporters out there, to put a lot of pressure on Gaza about him kicking for poles or whatever.
“If on the day we don’t feel like Gaza is in a good space kicking for poles, there’s no rule he must kick for poles.
“But once again, we enjoy seeing him at 10 … the games we have won by bonus-points this year, Gaza was playing at 10,” Stick added.
The Boks’ opening Test on tour is against the top-ranked team in the world, Ireland, in Dublin on Saturday. It will be followed by another three internationals against France in Marseille on 12 November, Italy in Genoa on 19 November and England in London on 26 November.
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