Having burst on the scene with brilliant displays for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby, it was inevitable that Willie le Roux’s golden path to the Green and Gold was tailor made.
Already being compared to the great Andre Joubert, Le Roux, who was born 24 years ago in Cape Town and schooled at Paul Roos Gymnasium, he has had the limelight turned on him ever since he made his senior provincial debut for Boland in 2010 at 20.
“When I was first exposed to Willie, in the early part of the year, he struck me as a player who could be coached, and I think that has been proved correct,” said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
But yet Meyer wasn’t completely convinced.
He was impressed with the young playmaker’s emphatic attacking displays where he often attacked from the 10-channel, but the player’s defensive abilities and composure under the high ball were big question marks.
“I felt at one stage that his kicking was not good enough for international level and I also felt he was suspect under the high ball,” said Meyer from Paris.
But after Le Roux’s 11th Test against Scotland last weekend one could say he had arrived.
“He has worked hard on those aspects of his game, and I have to give credit to (kicking coach) Louis Koen on the way that he has helped Willie with his development,” said Meyer.
Le Roux proved himself in the difficult northern hemisphere conditions.
“Willie has proved he can do something special in the fullback position and play at this level now,” said Meyer, who also used Le Roux on the right wing.
“He was a 50/50 choice coming onto the tour, as Zane Kirchner had played well in the Rugby Championship,” admitted Meyer.
After Meyer preferred Pat Lambie at 15 for the opening Test against Wales, he was forced to bring Le Roux on after Morne Steyn was injured inside 17 minutes, forcing him to shift Lambie to flyhalf.
“I believe fullback is his best position,” said Meyer.