Willemse v Bosch: Just a one-horse race?
OPINION: Not long ago Curwin Bosch was the “forgotten flyhalf of South African Rugby”.
Under former Sharks head coach Robert du Preez, Bosch was a player lacking confidence, because his coach had no confidence in him.
He was not allowed to develop into the flyhalf role as he had to play second-fiddle to the coach’s son.
Bosch was either shunted out to the fullback position or left out of the starting XV.
When he had the rare opportunity of starting in the No.10 role in previous seasons, it seemed as if his mistakes were more noticeable to Du Preez than that of his son.
That was in the past and in 2020, with the Du Preez family out of the picture, Bosch has been thriving.
The 22-year-old has been playing with confidence since being entrusted with the No.10 jersey by new head coach Sean Everitt.
With Handre Pollard in France, Bosch is the form No.10 on South African shores at the moment.
Bosch has directed play for the Sharks quite effectively and he has played a key role in getting the Sharks to their No.1 position in the current Super Rugby standings.
He has been dangerous on attack with his ability to unlock opposition defences and putting teammates into space.
He has also played a key role in many of the Sharks’ tries.
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His growing maturity this season can also be seen in his kicking game, where has put the opposition under pressure with his booming pin-point kicks downfield.
While Bosch has been outstanding, the same cannot be said about Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse.
Like Bosch, Willemse was almost seen as a utility back over the last few seasons, with a promising future in the No.10 jersey.
Apparently former Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was not really a fan of Willemse, while his time at flyhalf was limited as a result of Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’ desire to use him as a fullback.
When he did get a chance in the No.10 role, Willemse never really looked comfortable on the field.
Before the 2020 season, there was a lot of calls for Willemse to be given the No.10 jersey to develop in the role and new head coach John Dobson has done exactly that.
The Stormers won their first four games on the trot, but the youngster never really looked in control on the field.
Willemse has been quite average with his poor decision-making and his tendency to make mistakes when under pressure.
His kicking game has been quite poor as well and he has become somewhat of a liability in open play.
After a poor performance in the loss to the Blues at Newlands, Willemse was shifted to fullback for his team’s last match against the Sharks.
This could mean that the coaching team is losing confidence in his abilities at flyhalf or he is keen to move back to fullback – where his opportunities at international level look more promising.
The Springboks will be looking for fresh blood for the No.10 role and back-up for first-choice Handre Pollard and Bosch seems to be well ahead in the race.
If the rugby world is back on its feet by the time the July international window starts, Bosch could find himself in a starting role against either Scotland or Georgia.
For Willemse, there is still a lot of debate about what is his best position.
Some think it’s still flyhalf, while others will feel he should be a fullback, where is afforded more time and space.
Willemse could find himself in the rugby wilderness if the debate continues.