Saracens have agreed to sign Stormers out-half Damian Willemse on a short-term World Cup cover deal if he fails to make the final 31-man Springbok squad for the tournament in Japan.
Western Province coach John Dobson confirmed that if the former South African schools No10 doesn’t make the cut he will head to the Premiership and Heineken Cup double champions, which means he would be match-fit if an injury hits the Springboks at the finals.
Dobson made it clear Willemse would be returning to Cape Town from London in time for the 2020 Super Rugby pre-season, telling supersport.com: “If he doesn’t go to the World Cup, Damian could have an opportunity to go to Saracens on a short-term loan. If that does come about it will be a good thing for him as he can learn a lot through a short stint in the UK.
“Saracens, as you know, have a very good kicking game. If he goes there he will learn a lot about the game management that is expected of fly-half and he will come back better equipped to do well for us in Super Rugby.
“Our WP captain Chris van Zyl played for Saracens last year, enjoyed it and learnt a lot from the experience and was then back to take part in our pre-season.
Damian Willemse is playing 10 for WP this weekend; I wonder if Rassie will be watching, and if he's got a chance of sneaking into final @Springboks 31 man squad. Covers 10, midfield, wing, and 15. @IOLsport
— Jacques vdWesthuyzen (@jacq_west) August 22, 2019
Willemse, who has battled back from a knee injury, is currently focussing on performing for WP in their final Currie Cup league match of the season against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
“Damian is a special kid off the field as well as on it and is a deep thinker on the game so I don’t think he’s going to be too badly knocked if he isn’t in the World Cup squad, but he does want to make a point to the national selectors. In his mind, he is still playing for a chance to be in the World Cup squad.
“Damian showed us last week when he came on against Griquas what a good attacking fly-half he is and we are expecting a lot from him against the Cheetahs.
“He is really motivated to do well for us and hopefully push our season out by another few weeks, but if he is not in the World Cup squad when it is announced on Monday he will then give some thought to Saracens,” added Dobson.
WATCH: Michael Cheika explains his Australia squad selection for the World Cup
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