With the Cape side’s star fullback headed to France, the question now is who can fill the No 15 position? Wynona Louw considers three possibles.
While Western Province and the Stormers are lucky not to have lost too many of their regular Springboks post the World Cup, losing a player like Dillyn Leyds (to La Rochelle) still has to hurt in a big way.
His wizardry from the back has entertained fans for almost a decade, and while there can be no doubt that his counter-attacking brilliance will be hard to replace, finding a replacement for the No 15 jumper is one job that needs to get done.
Here are three options …
While the ‘he’s a 10 and that’s where he should be used’ argument could be seen as enough to have Willemse’s name scratched off this list, if there had to be an obvious guess for someone to come in at 15, this would be it.
He’s spent some time in the position for the Stormers and it’s clear that fullback is where he’ll find himself when it comes to the national frame, and the fact that he has the most reliable boot among these three candidates also counts for something.
Also, Jean-Luc du Plessis did well at flyhalf for the Stormers during the first few games of Super Rugby this season, and that just might have been enough for coach John Dobson to start housing Willemse at No 15 regularly once rugby resumes.
Tristan shares more than some DNA and a surname with Dillyn – the ability to produce scintillating runs from the back is another noteworthy thing they have in common.
While he hasn’t made his Super Rugby debut yet, those who have watched some varsity rugby will tell you that this guy knows how to spearhead an attack.
Just like his brother, the versatile back offers excitement and X-factor in no small quantity.
Just like the departing Leyds, Petersen can be devastating in broken play and on the counter, and his top-notch control under the high ball certainly adds a few bonus points to this fullback prospect.
But how’s that boot?
Leyds wasn’t exactly known for his kicking either (given all his attacking skills, kicking would probably feature way down the list), but if he needed to clear, he could get the job done.
Petersen, on the other hand, would probably need to spend some time practising his kicks to have a run in this role … this is one time where the lockdown would prove especially useful.
Considering him at fullback would also open up a spot out wide.
This year, Petersen and Seabelo Senatla did duty alongside touch, while Varsity Cup extraordinaire Edwill van der Merwe hasn’t featured much for the Stormers in 2020.