Damian Willemse surprised to be a Springbok at 20

Editor

New Springbok fly-half Damian Willemse admitted that his Test debut in Saturday’s win against Argentina in Durban had come as a surprise to him.

The 20-year-old was a shock selection in the Springbok Rugby Championship squad and although Bok coach Rassie Erasmus said he hoped to introduce Willemse at full-back from the replacements bench, he eventually came on at fly-half with Handre Pollard shifting to inside centre.

Willemse’s debut came with 20 minutes left in that Test and he threw a poor pass which resulted in an Argentina try and also kicked the ball out on the full which put his side under pressure when the match was evenly balanced.

Despite his shaky start in the Test arena, Willemse was delighted that he got an opportunity at the highest level.

“I didn’t think I would be sitting here at the age of 20, even though I always believed I could,” he told Sport24 after the match.

“Sitting here tonight there are mixed emotions. I’m really happy that we got the result and it is a massive honour and privilege to wear the Springbok jersey.

“There are a lot of Springboks that came and went and that is not part of my plan. We want to be great Springboks. There is a plan and we’re working really hard towards that.”

When asked about his error in judgement with his horror pass, Willemse displayed the maturity which has helped him cement his place as the Stormers’ first choice fly-half in 2018.

“I think always for young guys it’s important to work hard and learn,” he added.

“That’s what I’m trying to do … take it all in and throw it into one basket, shake it up and see what we come up with. You need a mature fly-half, you need a good quarterback and I think that maturity is very important.

“I’m just going to stay in the moment and look to work on my mistakes.”

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