Damian Willemse key for Stormers and Boks in 2019

Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse.
Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse.
Image: Gallo

Stormers and Springbok starlet Damian Willemse holds the keys to a successful season for both the national team and his own franchise.

He may not be starting in Sunday’s Super Heroes fixture against the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium but with 2019 being a truncated but crucial one from a Rugby World Cup perspective‚ Willemse is aware of the significance of not only being consistent‚ but looking after himself and his team’s interests.

With the boardroom upheaval taking place in Cape Town‚ clarity of mind and purpose has never been more important for Willemse.

“It’s an important season for both the franchises and the national team. The World Cup‚ though‚ is only in nine months’ time so the best we can do is to focus on what we can do for the franchises. But I know it’s a big year‚” Willemse said.

“It’s really not about me this year and I’ll be focusing on the Stormers and playing well for them.

“From there it’ll be about taking the momentum and confidence with me week in and week out‚ but it’s a big year that has to be taken step by step. It’s about making the Stormers better this season.”

The Stormers were at best pathetic last season and this manifested when they travelled.

They were cannon-fodder for the New Zealand teams and didn’t win a game on their travels.

While they were solid at home‚ Super Rugby contenders mark out their title credentials with bruising displays on the road.

From a Stormers side that most of the time looked poorly-coached and organised‚ there was none of that.

Willemse said they’ve worked on some of their key fundamentals to become a better side this year but also acknowledged the need to become more competitive on the road.

“We need to sharpen up on some key fundamentals. Our lineouts weren’t functioning very well last year and not winning the set phases really set us back because we know we have the skills in the outside backs.

“We also need to sharpen up our handling and our breakdown. If we can get those facets right‚ they would be a huge turn for us‚” Willemse said.

“We lost all our away games but won all our home games but the psychological point of winning away is really important because it gives you serious confidence when you come back home to face other teams.

“If we can win at least three out of four games on tour‚ that'll be great and that will help us during the season.”