Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
21 Nov 2018
10:39 am

Willie’s greatest strength is not his playmaking ability

Heinz Schenk

It may sound old-fashioned, but the mercurial fullback's passion for the Springboks is arguably the biggest factor in his successful return.

Willie le Roux during the South African national rugby team media conference at Hilton Hotel Cardiff on November 20, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Willie le Roux might be a mercurial talent, but if there’s one thing that’s consistent about him on the field it’s his passion for the Springboks.

That fire burning within the national fullback has once again been evident this week as South Africa prepare for the final Test of 2018 against Wales in Cardiff this weekend.

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Le Roux once again regaled how he feared his international career had been over when then Bok coach Allister Coetzee ditched him for the whole of the 2017 season.

Impressing at his English club, Wasps, Rassie Erasmus had little hesitation bringing him back.

“I watched as a spectator, sitting on the other side,” Le Roux was quoted as saying by SBS News.

“They set off the flame in me again, and I knew I had to try harder to get back in because it is something special. There were times I thought I would never play again.”

When the 29-year-old was making his mark as a game-breaker for the Boks under Heyneke Meyer, there was criticism that he would adopt an individualistic mindset.

As a result, there were some raised eyebrows when Le Roux returning this season with the mandate of mentoring the rookie members of the backline.

Those reservations have disappeared.

“When I came through, the likes of Jean De Villiers and Bryan Habana were there. I am now one of the seniors, and it is a different role on the field,” said Le Roux.

“I speak a lot and try to talk to the younger guys. Sometimes it looks as if you are yelling at them, but it isn’t. It is telling them to look up and see where the space is.”

More importantly, he’s still learning too.

“Everyone in the team is equal, and it makes a big difference. The guys are playing for each other more and we know what it means for our country back home.

“We enjoy going out and wearing the jersey.”

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