Ringing endorsement for Wiese as Vermeulen replacement
SPOTLIGHT: Uncapped No.8 Jasper Wiese will only fly out to join up with the Springboks at the end of the Premiership season next weekend.
However, he will do so with a ringing endorsement from Steve Borthwick, his Leicester head coach, who was fulsome in his praise over what his bulldozing forward has achieved in his first full season in England.
Leicester snapped up the 25-year-old Wiese when the Cheetahs unravelled in the pandemic, their team no longer participating in the Pro14 and their players falling prey to offers from elsewhere.
Wiese arrived in the East Midlands as an unknown, but he has become such a favourite that he forced his way into the 46-strong Springboks squad announced this past Saturday by Rassie Erasmus, who hinted he could now go on and have a huge part to play against the touring Lions following the ankle problem picked up by Duane Vermeulen.
Vermeulen confirmed on his Instagram page that he underwent surgery on Wednesday.
“Lucky for us Jasper can play No.8, with Duane’s injury now,” said Erasmus at the weekend.
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“You can’t ignore the form he is in. He is just the outstanding South African guy playing Premiership, he is just knocking the door down.”
His stats illustrate his impact.
In 14 Premiership appearances for Leicester, there have been 177 carries for 705 metres from Wiese, an average gain of 3.98 metres per carry.
There have also been 117 tackles, 54 defenders beaten, 21 passes, eight clean breaks, five offloads, four turnovers won and three tries.
On the debit side, you will find 16 penalties conceded (13 in defence), 11 turnovers conceded, two yellow cards and one red, but those negatives haven’t diluted his appeal to Leicester boss Borthwick who gave RugbyPass an insight into the Wiese that will arrive in fresh and new to the Springboks.
“Generally he is a quiet, reserved character,” the Tigers coach said.
“On the field, he leads by actions.
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“He rarely speaks but when he does his words have a significant effect on those around him.
“He wants to learn all the time, wants to get better, he’s brilliant. It has been a privilege to coach him over this last period of time.
“They will know him very well. They have been tracking him. He is a real passionate, driven rugby player.
“[He is] a fierce competitor and still a young man. He is young in his professional rugby career. He is desperate to take on every bit of learning to improve.
“There are plenty of [standout] moments. He is a player who the other players love playing with.
“If your teammates want to go on the field with you then it says a lot about your character and what you bring to them.”
By Liam Heagney, RugbyPass