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Bok utility back Damian Willemse ready to fill any role against Wales

Damian Willemse during the Springboks press zonference at the Palazzo Hotel in Johannesburg on June 29.
Damian Willemse during the Springboks press zonference at the Palazzo Hotel in Johannesburg on June 29.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Springbok utility back Damian Willemse has raised his hand to slot in at flyhalf if the game situation requires in Saturday's incoming series first Test against Wales at Loftus.

Willemse, who is being prepared to fulfil the Frans Steyn role, will start against Wales at fullback ahead of the vastly experienced Willie le Roux, who has also been training at flyhalf this week.

The 24-year-old Willemse said he won’t have a problem coming on at flyhalf if something happens to Elton Jantjies, who was picked ahead of Handrè Pollard.

“There is always the possibility of any injury and if Elton goes down, I can cover at 10 or even at 12,” he said as the Boks ramped up their preparations for the clash at what is a Loftus packed to the rafters.

“There is also Willie le Roux who is usually very good at slotting into first receiver and running into those spots. Obviously it will depend on what the coaches decide if they want to move me to 10 if Elton gets injured, but there is that option.”

Willemse, who fulfilled numerous roles at the back as he helped the Stormers lift the United Rugby Championship (URC), said he was also happy to play at fullback for the Boks.

“I am excited to play fullback. The last time I played fullback was during the regular season against the Bulls.

“It has been a good week with the Boks and I am excited for the weekend and slotting back into fullback. I have been training there, so I am excited about the challenge.”

Willemse added that he has been working with coaches on improving his skills set to be able to perform varied roles.

“It is something we have been working on with the coaches for a few years now while I've been in the set-up. It is something I am comfortable with — even at the Stormers I have been playing multiple at 12, 15 and in one Sharks game I went to wing.

“So it is definitely a skills set I have been training at for a number of years now and I am enjoying it.

“For me, this weekend is not about being desperate. It's about going out and executing and putting the forwards in the good spaces and getting that territory battle going for us.

“I would like to play really well, but in saying that I still need to do my role and what is required of me this weekend and the rest will follow.

“We know Wales are going to kick the ball — that’s what we are expecting. But they can change the plan.

“We have been working hard on our kicking game as well — it is just about taking away the pressure and putting our forwards on the front foot.”



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