Home Sport Damian Willemse will be hard to unseat even though Frans Steyn is...

Damian Willemse will be hard to unseat even though Frans Steyn is back in Springbok mix


Damian Willemse coolly took his big chance when he started ahead of Willie le Roux for the Springboks in the three-Test series against Wales.

The Springboks’ Damian Willemse runs at the Wales defence during their Test series. Picture: Nic Bothma/EPA via BackpagePix

MBOMBELA – The return to fitness of veteran Bok Bomb squad general Frans Steyn has raised the issue of whether he will be lighting fuses at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday against the All Blacks but surely the coaching staff will keep him on light duty for a little longer.

The 35-year-old Springboks veteran of 74 Tests rejoined the Bok squad a few weeks ago after having recovered from a hamstring injury suffered playing Currie Cup rugby for the Cheetahs, a setback that ruled him out of the three-Test series against Wales, and in his absence, Willie Le Roux took on that utility back role with distinguished success.

Le Roux, who turns 33 in a fortnight and also has 74 caps, played differing and masterful roles off the bench in the first and third Tests — he sat out the Bloemfontein game entirely — and his poise and game management played a significant part in both of those victories, while his calming presence was sorely missed in Bloem when the Boks fell away sadly in the fourth quarter.

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Le Roux’s traditional position, of course, is fullback, but surely there is no return there for him now after commanding performances by Damian Willemse.

The 24-year-old now has 18 Tests behind him and coolly took his big chance when he started ahead of Le Roux at Loftus Versfeld in the first Test against Wales, landing the winning points at the death with an ice-cold penalty effort.

He was also on form in Cape Town and the feeling surely is to let him continue his good work this weekend, with Le Roux providing the backup options at most positions in the backline.

This is what Steyn has done so well for the Boks, and his time will come again, but for now, the Boks should stick with the status quo.

IOL Sport

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