Home RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 Willemse gets nod for Rugby Championship

Willemse gets nod for Rugby Championship


SA Under-20 flyhalf Damian Willemse is one of three uncapped players included in the Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, with the Emirates Lions quartet of Malcolm Marx (hooker), Warren Whiteley (No 8), Ross Cronje (scrumhalf) and Lionel Mapoe (centre) also back in the Bok fold for the first time this season.

Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, announced a squad of 35 players on Monday, with two loose forwards, the Vodacom Bulls’ Marco van Staden and Cyle Brink of the Emirates Lions, joining Willemse, the 20-year-old DHL Stormers and Junior Springbok flyhalf, as the uncapped players in the group.

Whiteley and the experienced Eben Etzebeth (lock) both return having recovered from long-term injuries, while Marx has shrugged off his hamstring troubles, which forced him to miss the June internationals.

Also returning to the Springbok squad are Francois Louw, the experienced flanker who plays for English club side Bath, Lwazi Mvovo (outside back), as well Mapoe (centre) and Cronje (scrumhalf), both of whom missed the midyear Tests because of injury.

Louw has represented the Boks in 57 Tests and Erasmus said he will add a lot of experience to the group.

“Eben and Warren have been out of the Bok mix for a while because of injury so it’s very pleasing to have them back in the squad, while Malcolm has regained his good form with the Emirates Lions since recovering from his injury,” said Erasmus, who added that the participation of Brink and Jean-Luc Preez (loose forward) is dependent on medical examinations.

“We saw the benefit and impact of Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk in the squad during the June internationals and I want ‘Flo’ to perform a similar role for us.

“It is also pleasing to again add some young players who been showing good form and consistency for their franchise teams during Vodacom Super Rugby,” Erasmus added, in reference to the uncapped trio of Willemse, Van Staden and Brink.

Siya Kolisi retains the captaincy, while Le Roux (fullback, Wasps) and De Klerk (scrumhalf, Sale Sharks), both of whom were outstanding during the 2-1 Castle Lager Incoming Series win over England in June, are amongst the 15 backs in the squad.

The bulk of the players have been training in Stellenbosch for a few weeks, with the Emirates Lions contingent set to join them on Wednesday. The men from Johannesburg returned to South Africa on Monday after their Vodacom Super Rugby final appearance on Saturday against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

The squad will continue with preparations in Cape Town until Friday and following a two-day break will then reassemble in Durban next Sunday to continue with their build-up towards the Castle Lager Rugby Championship opener on 18 August against Argentina at Jonsson Kings Park. The two sides meet again a week later in Mendoza.

Players who were not considered because of injury include Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), Warrick Gelant, Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane (all Vodacom Bulls), Coenie Oosthuizen and Sbu Nkosi (both Cell C Sharks).

The Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (in alphabetical order – name and surname, franchise/club, Test caps and points):

Forwards (20):
Cyle Brink (Loose forward, Emirates Lions, uncapped)
Jean-Luc du Preez (Loose forward, Cell C Sharks, 13, 10 – 2t)
Thomas du Toit (Prop, Cell C Sharks, 4, 0)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Lock / Loose forward, DHL Stormers, 36, 20 – 4t)
Eben Etzebeth (Lock, DHL Stormers, 67, 15 – 3t)
Steven Kitshoff (Prop, DHL Stormers, 27, 5 – 1t)
Siya Kolisi (Captain – Loose forward, DHL Stormers, 31, 20 – 4t)
Francois Louw (Loose forward, Bath, England, 57, 45 – 9t)
Wilco Louw (Prop, DHL Stormers, 7, 0)
Frans Malherbe (Prop, DHL Stormers, 19, 0)
Malcolm Marx (Hooker, Emirates Lions, 14, 15 – 3t)
Bongi Mbonambi (Hooker, DHL Stormers, 16, 5 – 1t)
Franco Mostert (Lock, Emirates Lions, 21, 5 – 1t)
Tendai Mtawarira (Prop, Cell C Sharks, 101, 10 – 2t)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Loose forward, DHL Stormers, 4, 0)
Marvin Orie (Lock, Emirates Lions, 1, 0)
RG Snyman (Lock, Vodacom Bulls, 3, 0)
Akker van der Merwe (Hooker, Cell C Sharks, 3, 0)
Marco van Staden (Loose forward, Vodacom Bulls, uncapped)
Warren Whiteley (No 8, Emirates Lions, 17, 15 – 3t)

Backs (15):
Lukhanyo Am (Centre, Cell C Sharks, 3, 0)
Ross Cronjé (Scrumhalf, Emirates Lions, 10, 10 – 2t)
Faf de Klerk (Scrumhalf, Sale Sharks, England, 14, 5 – 1t)
Aphiwe Dyantyi (Wing, Emirates Lions, 3, 5 – 1t)
André Esterhuizen (Centre, Cell C Sharks, 2, 0)
Elton Janjies (Flyhalf, Emirates Lions, 26, 215 – 2t, 41c, 41p)
Jesse Kriel (Centre, Vodacom Bulls, 32, 45 – 9t)
Willie le Roux (Fullback, Wasps, England, 44, 55 – 11t)
Makazole Mapimpi (Wing, Cell C Sharks, 1, 5 – 1t)
Lionel Mapoe (Centre, Emirates Lions, 12, 0)
Lwazi Mvovo (Wing, Cell C Sharks, 17, 30 – 6t)
Embrose Papier (Scrumhalf, Vodacom Bulls, 2, 0)
Handré Pollard (Flyhalf, Vodacom Bulls, 29, 246 – 3t, 42c, 46p, 3d)
Ivan van Zyl (Scrumhalf, Vodacom Bulls, 3, 0)
Damian Willemse (Flyhalf, DHL Stormers, uncapped)

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  1. There are plenty of bizarre selections tbh…

    Van Der Merwe
    Van Zyl

    Rassie is bizarrely timid with his selections.

    Anyway who cares. I watch Springbok rugby with half an eye.

  2. Clearly Duane Vermeulen has joined the Bismarck / Frank Steyn boat and told SARU where they can stick their flowery green jersey…

    He has fallen from the January guarantee of Bok captaincy to not a word in just seven months…

  3. @DavidS:

    Louw has slowed down a fair bit this season too… he’s still in form, still brings experience but they’re not playing on the soggy fields of the North. Good to see Van Staden rewarded by no Roeloff Smit who for mine is higher in the pecking order of ‘real’ open-siders…

  4. @DavidS:

    Duane was never going to be considered for the RC – this was discussed during the England Tour… punish
    We are very thin at 10… If Pollard gets injured we are left with Jantjies and a kid who is coming back from injury… dash

    PS: Mbonambi proved himself in the England Tour matches IMO. Marx is head and shoulders ahead of any other hooker and Mbonambi/Ackers good cover.

  5. Roelof Smit, Marnus Schoeman deserve to be there, both streets ahead of Francois Louw who hasn’t had a decent game of rugby for Bath or the Boks since 2015

  6. I see the speculation is to play Willemse at 15, but really this squad has very few surprises to me.

  7. @Welshbok die Brandwag: Rassie may just use Flo as reserve option (like Brits against England). Indeed he is way too slow nowadays, and pretty one dimensional in his game (i.e. don’t expect him to burst through a few defenders and then offload in the tackle – just head down, to the ground stuff…).
    Amazing that after 4 years we still cannot produce a decent 9? Faf does have his brilliance every 3 games, but the rest are just hond-kak. We should beat Argentina (but watch their new Hakwares coach!) and Australia (if we do not get a farken crooked ref nailing us in the scrums). But individually I just do not get the sense that our players even WANT to be on par with the NZ players. Seems they are only developing gym muscles and golf swings during the week…

  8. Poor – Flo (verby), cronje, mvovo, ori, van zyl

    Average – mapoe, esterhuizen, am

    good – willemse, van staden, avdm

    Without serfontein and DDA, and Sbu Nkosi that Bok backline become v average.

  9. @Bekke:

    Most the South African outside backs cannot tackle for shit and are positionally amatuer of defence. Combrink has come good this season with every game and with Nkosi out adds some much needed extra’s against the top teams with his ability to play like an added 15.

    Rassie’s words on Louw. He would like to see him at 8 with Van Staden and Kolisi (the latter who he see as more a counter-rucker than open-sider… I see him as neither). That trio rings alarm bells on many front’s, starting with the fact not one of them are used as LO options for their unions.

  10. @bryce_in_oz: Bekke bases his view on how Combrinck ended upin the semi against the Waratahs wing in space charging at him and failed to stop him.

    Might then as well base your whole opinion on Malcolm Marx on the fact that for the Waratahs last trick try he missed the tackle on the Tahs prop.

    It is Bekke;s fallback for any player that does not play at the Stormers and is a Springbok back line player

  11. This is probably not the right space for this. but here goes, did anyone pick up on Saturday how ineffectual the Marx / Kwagga ball stealing attempts were against the Crusaders? With some proper counter rucking the Saders just took that element out of the game completely.

    Are we putting enough value on getting our crap together and starting counter rucking as a unit? I definitely think so.

  12. Any loosetrio without JLDP as first name down is bonkers. With Marx and Yster and kitshoff these are worldclass stars of the future and RWC 2019 in the making.

    This could potentially be an outstanding Bok packs of all time , even without vermeulen.

  13. @Craven:

    Of course not mate… the Saders and most analysts in NZAR said that was exactly what they were going to do on top of nullifying both the mauls and line-outs. The latter being evident from the very first LO.

  14. @DavidS: Also in the final – was lying on his arse while the first Saders try was scored. And there are MANY more!!!! Unfortunately, he is pretty much like Jantjes in that regard.

  15. @Bekke:

    Oh that I did… he made more clean-breaks, beat more defenders, made more metres than his Crusader’s opposite number with one missed tackle. For the season he made 81% of his tackles compared to Nkosi’s 77%… so again he is no worse on defence than the rest of the Bok wingers with more tools in his arsenal. ’nuff said…

  16. @bryce_in_oz: I did not compare him to anyone – just mentioned the FACT that he cannot tackle. Quite simple really, unless you are (how do I put this nicely??) ….????

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