Damian Willemse’s high work rate and intensity in looking to get involved in play against Georgia would have been particularly satisfying for the Springbok coaches, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Prior to the Springboks’ first warm-up Test against Georgia last Friday, captain Siya Kolisi highlighted the fact that nothing trumped “warrior work” in the national set-up.
He referenced this to be the dirty work that most casual onlookers don’t pick up on, but which the players and coaches value most highly.
It was immediately notable when Willemse came on to replace Frans Steyn in the second half that this is something he has taken to heart.
The talented 23-year-old looked fired up and, as the screen shots indicate below, he made an impact from the first moments he was on the field.
Having come on in the 55th minute, Willemse’s first involvement has him joining Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kwagga Smith in a three-man assault on Beka Saghinadze before quickly shooting back into the backline.
Less than a minute later, Willemse is at it again, bursting back to his feet to clean and disrupt at the breakdown after another important tackle involvement.
At the very next phase, Willemse shoots up again and, along with Malcolm Marx, smashes Luka Japaridze back behind the advantage line before again wrestling himself free from the contact situation and then hitting the ruck.
All of this takes place within two minutes of Willemse being on the field.
A couple of minutes later the utility back almost scores a try, while he is then again involved prominently in proceedings.
The clip below is surely the pick of the lot as Willemse completes another tackle, pops back to his feet and sprints into the defensive line before providing another tackle assist.
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) July 6, 2021
All in all, it’s a fantastic illustration of the work put in by Willemse and just why he embodied the “warrior” spirit that the Bok coaches so emphatically advocate for.