Damian Willemse ready to do ‘something special’ with the Stormers
All four World Cup winners who play for the Stormers are set to feature against Zebre in Stellenbosch this Saturday.
Damian Willemse is back for the Stormers. Picture: Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images
The Stormers fullback featured prominently in the Boks’ winning campaign, playing in all the big matches, including the three knockouts, which the Boks won by a point on each occasion, against France, England and New Zealand.
And following the victory in the final, the Bok players and coaching team embarked on a week-long trophy tour celebration around the country. But now, having enjoyed a full three weeks off, Willemse says he’s ready to play again, and how the Stormers could do with him and his fellow World Cup winners.
‘Excited to be back’
The Cape-based team have had a mixed start to the current United Rugby Championship season; they’re in 12th place on the log with just two wins from six matches.
The Stormers face Zebre Parma in Stellenbosch this Saturday and besides Willemse returning to the fold, so, too, could Deon Fourie, Manie Libbok and Frans Malherbe also feature.
“The break was definitely something we all needed, especially after those tough knockout games,” said Willemse.
“But, I’m really excited to get back to domestic duty and play for the Stormers. We’ve got some big games coming up, in the Champions Cup as well as the URC.
“It’s going to be an epic summer, especially going over to Europe to play there … so I’m really keen to get back in the Stormers jersey and do something special again with the team.”
Zebre will be an angry team this weekend, especially after copping a big hiding from the Lions in Joburg last Saturday.
“We want to put our best foot forward and build some momentum going into the other clashes that we have in the December schedule.
“We’ve all seen Zebre’s performances and how they have developed their game; they’ve got great players and a great coaching staff. When we went to Parma last year it was a challenging game and they’re going to come down here and try to cause an upset.”
World Cup stars
Coach John Dobson is unlikely to play his four Bok stars for the whole match in Stellenbosch.
“We have to be slightly careful with how we give them game time. They have been off after the World Cup, relaxing fairly hard for a while,” Dobson said.
“It’s more about perhaps not pushing Manie for 80 minutes, but deciding between giving him 20 minutes off the bench or we could start with him, controlling his minutes and sub him.
“I think they do need to get some rust off, maybe not all of them. Certainly, Manie and Damian need to shake some rust off. We just need to manage it.
“I don’t think they can go from zero to 80, but I’m not going to keep them in cotton wool. They need a bit of a run at home.”