Stormers head coach John Dobson believes Springboks prospect Damian Willemse was “magnificent” in his team’s 30-13 win over the Cheetahs in Cape Town. The Stormers flyhalf received a lot of criticism over the last few weeks for his poor and inconsistent performances. However, he was one of the stars of the show at Newlands against the Cheetahs.
The 22-year-old contributed 15 points with the boot, which included a long-range drop goal. Willemse also played a big role in Warrick Gelant’s 75th minute try with a sensational offload.
“The graph over the last few weeks has been steadily upwards. Hopefully, slowly, we can silence the haters because I thought he [Willemse] was magnificent tonight [Saturday],” said Dobson.
“His game control was great. That was a really tough, physical game of rugby we played and credit to the Cheetahs.
“To have him in that sort of pressure and to perform like that made me very happy.”
He added: “We want to control games with territory and I think Damian has made massive progress. We want to score tries that suit Western Province and Stormers rugby and to make people smile as well. I’m pretty pleased with that.”
Willemse, an electric schoolboy player with a seemingly unstoppable step, quickly rose through the ranks – South African schools in 2015, to the under-20 side in 2017 to become a capped Springbok in 2018. The flyhalf has been developing at the Stormers over that time, with more than 30 Super Rugby caps to his name since debuting as an 18-year-old in 2017.
Despite being used as a 10 at club level, Willemse has been used as a fullback by Rassie Erasmus for the Springboks in three of his six tests so far. As a utility on the bench, he has also covered centre and wing but is yet to feature as a 10 for the national side.
The win over the Cheeaths moved the Stormers up to second in the standings with one round left to play. The Bulls are on top with 19 points and they are closely followed by the Stormers and the Sharks on 17 points.
The Stormers will face the Sharks in Durban the final round, while there is still a question mark surrounding the Bulls’ home match against the Pumas.
A number of the Pumas forwards have been placed in quarantine after players tested positive for COVID-19.
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