• ‘Willemse’s future not at 10’

    Former Springbok assistant coach Swys de Bruin says Damian Willemse’s long-term future lies at fullback or inside centre.

    In an interview with Netwerk24, the former Lions head coach – who would have worked with Willemse at the Springboks – says the 21-year-old Stormers player has a future away from the No 10 position, where he has predominantly played in the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

    ‘The kicking game has stood out for me, particularly because teams shoot up so quickly on defence,’ De Bruin said. ‘To kick for space or tactical kicking – the player who is best at it is Curwin Bosch.

    ‘I am not entirely convinced that Damian Willemse is a flyhalf. He is a brilliant player and I enjoyed coaching him so much. I just wonder if he isn’t a 12 or 15 because he plays firstly for himself. He looks at what is on for him, before he passes and supports.’

    Bosch – who started his career at the Sharks as a flyhalf – was used mostly as a fullback or utility-back substitute under former Sharks coach Robert du Preez, who preferred his son Robert Jnr at flyhalf.

    However, Bosch’s fortunes have changed under Sean Everitt, who replaced Du Preez as head coach last year. Everitt has used Bosch as the Sharks’ starting flyhalf and the 22-year-old has taken his chance, helping the Sharks finish top of the Vodacom Super Rugby table before the enforced break in the season.

    Meanwhile, Willemse has been played at flyhalf under John Dobson  in 2020 but has had to shift to fullback throughout his Stormers career to help his Test selection.  The Stormers backline has struggled to fire on all cylinders this year and, while Willemse alone is not to blame for this, his kicking game has not given the team the territory that it possibly should have gained.

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