Willie opens up on special connection with Damian
SPOTLIGHT: Willie le Roux and Damian Willemse have a “connection” that could prove to be beneficial for the Springboks going forward.
It was there for all to see in the recent three-Test series against Wales.
That first Test in Pretoria when the Boks were 3-18 down at half-time pops up as a prime example.
After having a horror show in the first half, flyhalf Elton Jantjies was replaced at the break by Le Roux, who helped turn the tide in the second half.
Le Roux shared the fullback and flyhalf duties with Willemse in that second 40 and it proved to be fruitful for the Boks as they went to snatch a 32-29 win.
Despite having a lot more experience than Willemse on the international stage, Le Roux sees himself as an equal and he believes that makes the connection even stronger.
“I wouldn’t say I am a mentor – we are just in a team together and we play together,” said Le Roux.
“I still learn a lot from him as well and I learn from Warrick [Gelant] as well. I think we all learn from each other.
“We all try to make each other better.
“When I went on [in the first Test], Damian and I had a connection. He understands if we go wide.
“If Damian says he is out of there and I am first at flyhalf, he will just fall back and I just take over that [No.10] role and vice versa.
“We got a good connection.
“We are obviously both from Paul Roos, so it was good to be on the field together and get those minutes under the belt.”
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Back three selections
Meanwhile, the Springboks’ back-three combination for their upcoming Rugby Championship matches against the All Blacks will have to be tweaked after Cheslin Kolbe was ruled out with a fractured jaw.
Kolbe suffered the injury in the Boks’ 30-14 win over Wales in the third Test.
Le Roux was the replacement on that day as well.
“Unfortunately, Cheslin got injured in the last game and I had to go on early, so it was a bit of a different game that you have to play,” Le Roux explained.
“We were leading, so we just had to keep it simple whereas in the first game we were behind by a few scores.
“I don’t think anything will change with Cheslin out.
“I think the guys here will do the job.
“They would not be here if they are not good enough, so we are looking forward to it.”