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Frans Steyn's impact on Willemse

FROM DOWN UNDER: Whether on or off the field, Francois Steyn is extremely valuable for the Springboks says Damian Willemse.


For the last couple of months, Willemse and Steyn have been making the headlines for their similarities.

Similar to Steyn, who has been used at fullback, flyhalf and centre by the Springboks for the last 15 years, Willemse has been groomed to fulfil the utility back role.

Steyn, who started his career as a fullback, made his debut for the Springboks at wing and won the 2007 World Cup at inside centre. The talented veteran can easily slot into flyhalf and is regarded as one of the most decorated Springbok players.

He has played more than 70 Tests for the Springboks.

And while most would still love to see the 34-year-old Steyn take the field in green and gold this Rugby Championship season, it seems like the Springboks coaching team have entrusted him to guide Willemse into the utility role.

Thus far, Willemse has really embraced his new responsibility. He was one of just two backline players selected on the bench for the Springboks’ second Test against the British and Irish Lions.


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Speaking during the media briefing on Friday, the 23-year-old playmaker admitted having Steyn as a mentor has helped him adapt to his new position.

“Frans Steyn is such a chilled guy, he trains really hard and just to have his presence in the team has been great,” Willemse told reporters.


“He is always calm, always has a plan and there is clear communication and I’ve been enjoying him on and off the field.

“He has been helping me a lot with game management, the way he kicks the ball and I’m learning a lot of tricks from him.

“A guy with his experience and with someone like Morne Steyn, it’s just extremely valuable especially with helping the youngsters like Aphelele Fassi, myself and Grant Williams.”

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When quizzed about the challenges that accompany the new role, Willemse said: “I’ve been enjoying the challenge.

“The coaches have been developing my skillset whether it is at No.15 or No.12.

“[Springboks backline coach Mzwandile]  Stick has been helping me with the highballs, and we have been working on my game management. If I take the role as 15 and then at 12, there is a clear plan for me which they have been working on.”

When asked about his prefered position, he explained: “I am just fortunate to be in the squad.

“For me, it’s just about understanding and executing the plan and just building on our success rate.

“I am happy with the direction the team is going and appreciate the trust the coaches have in me and I am looking forward to the next four weeks.”

The Springboks are currently training in Brisbane before their Rugby Championship Round Three match against the Wallabies on September 12.

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