CAPE TOWN – Despite his strong interest in the No 10 jersey, Damian Willemse says that he is becoming more comfortable in his new fullback role.
Willemse started three matches at 15 for the Stormers on their Australasian tour and looked more adept after each performance. He was particularly good against the Blues, and then again last Friday against the Rebels when his incisions into the backline created space in the channels out wide.
It is also an open secret that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus views the 20-year-old’s immediate future at international level in the No 15 jersey.
“It is going well (playing at fullback). Coach Dave (Snyman) has helped me a lot, in terms of my counter-attacks and kicking game. I am enjoying it,” Willemse said this week.
“I do my extras every day and keep on reviewing my game. Obviously I want the No 10 jumper again but right now I’m happy. It’s not happening overnight though; I have been working hard on the position. I’ve settled in at fullback and I think I’ve done well there.”
A large part of Willemse enjoying his new role has a lot to do with the Stormers’ gameplan this past couple of weeks. After starting the season focused firmly on keeping the ball close to their impressive forward pack, there has been a greater desire to spread the ball down the backline and to play the game at a greater pace.
This attacking mindset allows Willemse a great deal of freedom where he is often seen popping up at first-receiver and makes him particularly dangerous from broken play. The Stormers only had 32% possession at AAMI Park, but still managed to run in five tries against the Rebels.
“We have got the players and we realised that. Obviously the teams were starting to analyse us that we were playing with our forwards and not giving the ball to our backs. We have got Dillyn Leyds and we have got Sergeal Petersen that can run the ball and cause trouble for the defence,” Willemse said.
“The Blues game was a turning point because we realised that spreading the ball worked. We have the right players to do it and right now we have found a balance.”
STANDINGS RD #9
We have reached the halfway mark in the regular season and mathematically all teams have a chance of progressing to Finals . who will kick-on in the second half of the season? pic.twitter.com/1FIwJt5KmY
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 16, 2019
After the heroics against the Rebels, the former Paul Roos prodigy knows the Stormers must now follow it up with another stellar performance against an experienced Brumbies side at Newlands on Saturday.
“On tour we made it difficult for ourselves losing some games we should have won.
“Now it’s important we back up the Rebels game with a win at home. We have six home games to come and have to make them count,” Willemse said.