A misunderstanding appears to have resulted in Ashwin Willemse’s outburst on live TV on Saturday night.
During a live post-match discussion, Willemse said: ‘I’ve been in the game for a long time like most of us here. As a player, I’ve been called a quota for a long time and I’ve worked very hard to earn the respect I have now. I’m not going to sit here and be patronised by these two individuals [Mallett and Botha] who played their rugby during the apartheid era, a segregated era.’
He then walked off the set, with Mallett and Botha continuing their discussion with host Motshidisi Mohono, who called the episode ‘unfortunate’.
According to Rapport newspaper‘s source, Mallett, while off-air, had asked the TV producer to give Willemse an opportunity to speak first following the Lions’ win over the Brumbies, because Willemse did not get a chance to speak following the earlier match between the Sharks and Chiefs.
The report further claims that Willemse interpreted this request as patronising, which led to his outburst.
Another source told Rapport that there’s been bad blood between Willemse and Mallett for some years.
‘It was virtually impossible to work with Ashwin in the last while. Often he would not even pitch up for work commitments and functions. He would confirm for a match only to pull out 10 minutes beforehand. He and Nick hardly talked to each other. Nick is, however, no saint. But I do feel sorry for Naas because I don’t think he has anything to do with it,’ the source said.