Audio: Mixed bag for Western Province
INJURY UPDATE: Damian Willemse’s long-awaited return to the starting line-up could be delayed as Western Province prepare to take on Free State Cheetahs on Saturday.
Willemse, who had been out of action since June due to a knee injury, made his comeback from the bench during the WP’s defeat to the Griquas last Friday.
Preferred as a fullback by Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus and tried and tested at 15 over the last 12 months by both his franchise and the national team, the utility back certainly looked more lethal when he replaced Josh Stander in the second half as flyhalf.
He immediately made a huge impact in Province’s attack and had a hand in Nama Xaba’s try while one of his elusive trademark runs set up Seabelo Senatla for Province’s third try in the closing minutes of the match.
Even though it was not enough as the Griquas side held on for the 27-23 win, Willemse’s presence at flyhalf proved to be vital for the team, who is currently struggling to find a suitable No.10.
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“A lot of confidence and positives that we can take from Willemse’s return,” Western Province assistant coach Norman Laker told reporters
“[Willemse] was only allowed to play 30 minutes because of the long-term injury he had and he certainly used the allocated minutes well,”
When asked if Willemse would start against the Free State Cheetahs this Saturday, Laker said: “We still not sure if he can start, have to wait for the medical staff’s decision,”
Laker also mentioned that flank Jaco Coetzee, who has been recovering from a shoulder injury, is set to miss the final round-robin match.
Good news for Province is that they welcome back three Springboks players namely hooker Scarra Ntubeni, wing Dillyn Leyds and prop Wilco Louw ahead of the trip to Bloemfontein.
“Scarra, Leyds and Wilco bring a lot of energy to the team. It’s great to have them back for this weekend.
“Think if you lose that type of quality so late in the week it will disrupt any team, doesn’t matter if its the All Blacks, Wallabies or Springboks.”
Western Province will name their team to take on Cheetahs on Wednesday, August 21.