Following a physical and mental break after his World Cup-winning exploits, Damian Willemse is recharged and ready to fire for the DHL Stormers.
The Springbok playmaker is back in the mix for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash with Zebre Parma in Stellenbosch on Saturday, having recently returned from a three-week post-World Cup rest.
The 25-year-old says the break was just what he needed and he’s hungrier than ever to get back to active duty for the DHL Stormers.
“Not just for me but for a lot of the guys, the break was definitely something that we all needed, especially after those tough knockout games,” Willemse said. “To come back home and celebrate and spend some time with friends and family.
“But I’m really excited to get back to domestic duty and play for the DHL Stormers. We’ve got some big games coming up, in the Investec Champions Cup as well as the Vodacom URC.
“It’s going to be an epic summer, especially going over to Europe to play there. So really keen to get back in the DHL Stormers jersey and do something special again with the team.”
Willemse has been watching the DHL Stormers’ campaign this season with interest and is keen to start contributing to the cause again.
“We started really well against the Scarlets here at home, and we were a bit unlucky in all of our games on tour,” he said.
“But all teams go through phases like this, challenging times.
“The important thing for us is to get aligned as a team and make sure we work hard. It is something we’ve done before in the Vodacom URC – winning those critical home games.
“We need to look at this situation logically and not be too hard on ourselves, and everyone is putting their shoulder to the wheel as a squad.”
The DHL Stormers on Saturday will face a Zebre side licking their wounds after a heavy defeat against the Emirates Lions last week, and while their defence could use some work, the Italians have proven they’re not shy to have a go on attack.
“Everyone is really excited to be back at home and playing at Danie Craven Stadium, it is always lovely to go and play there,” Willemse explained.
“We want to put our best foot forward and build some momentum going into the other clashes that we have in the December schedule.
“We’ve all seen Zebre’s performances and how they’ve developed their game. They’ve got great players and a great coaching staff.
“When we went to Parma last year it was a challenging game, and they’re going to come down here and try to cause an upset.
“We’ve come from a disappointing tour so we need to make sure we study them and focus on our game. We expect Zebre to come out with a bang and it’s going to be a great game.”
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