Damian Willemse had a poor day at the office
- Damian Willemse’s iffy early form since local rugby’s resumption should’ve been overly concerning, believes Deon Davids, Team Gold’s coach.
- The 22-year-old Stormers pivot had a poor game in the Springbok Showdown at Newlands, particularly in terms of his kicking.
- His lack of authority was in stark contrast to his direct opponent, Elton Jantjies, who was steady behind a dominant pack.
Deon Davids, Team Gold’s coach at the Springbok Showdown, believes it’s premature to read too much into Damian Willemse’s struggles at flyhalf since the local rugby’s resumption.
The 22-year-old pivot’s much-hyped battle with Elton Jantjies, his direct opponent for Team Green, failed to materialise as he experienced a chastening evening, particularly with the boot.
Two of his three attempts at goal – which were straight in front – were pushed wide, while an important kick to touch was also missed.
Compounding matters was his yellow card early in the second half for desperately and blatantly pulling Team Green wing Yaw Penxe back when he was certain to score a try.
A penalty try was subsequently awarded.
“We all know that Damian is a special talent,” said Davids following a 9-25 defeat for his side at Newlands.
“He can win you games. Players go through cycles where they just don’t have some of their best nights and Damian probably didn’t have one of his best evenings.”
Davids, who knows returns to his portfolio as Springboks forwards coach, though also feels that there were mitigating circumstances that contributed to the Stormers playmakers’ poor showing.
“We were under pressure and the conditions were a bit difficult. It’s early in the season still,” he said.
“But a guy with his experience and ability will definitely bounce back. He would’ve learned how to better handle being under pressure after this and will be stronger for it too.”
In contrast, Jantjies was steadiness personified behind a dominant pack as he directed matters well for Team Green.
Admittedly, there was little pyrotechnics but they also weren’t required.
“We wanted to make this game resemble a Test as close as possible,” said Mzwandile Stick, Team Green’s coach.
“We had Elton at 10 with a good kicking game. We wanted to apply pressure in the air because we didn’t want to give players like Warrick Gelant and Rosko Specman time and space.”