VIDEO: Willie the 'waterboy' has some signs for his teammates
Willie le Roux remains a key player in the Springbok set-up, even if he now plays an almost ‘backroom’ role.
However, he says he still enjoys himself as much as he did 10 years ago – be that as a starting player, a waterboy or just holding tackle bags at training.
Having made his Test debut against Italy at Kingspark, in Durban, in June 2013, Le Roux will run out for his 90th Test cap against Tonga in a World Cup match in Marseille on Sunday.
“I’m just here for the team,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “[Whether I am] selected or not selected. Waterboy. Anything to make the team work.”
The 89-times capped veteran, often seen in an auxiliary flyhalf role, said communication is a key aspect of the Bok game.
Often seen floating around in the outside channels of the backline, the 34-year-old makes him a key playmaker for the team.
(WATCH as Willie le Roux chats to @king365ed about his roles in the Springbok team – as a waterboy, communicator, playmaker and defensive organiser…)
“People outside the team and watching on television, don’t always see the communication that goes on in a game,” he said.
“Especially in front of these load crowds [in France], I have some signs that I show the guys if they can’t hear me.
“The back three [outside backs] all know my signs. If they can’t hear me, they still know what I mean.
“I am in control of the D [defence] for the back three.
“Communication is vital, as we always talk before a play or after a play, discuss how we can do things better.
“Those micro ‘comms’ always help.”
In their final pool match, against Tonga in Marseille on Sunday, Le Roux will partner rookie utility Grant Williams and veteran Makazole Mapimpi in a very different back three.
However, he is confident their raw talent will help them gel as a unit.
“They would not have been selected if they were not good enough,” Le Roux said, coming to the defence of his teammates.
“I have played a lot of games with Mapimpi and we understand each other.
“Grant [Williams] is new on the wing, but he is an unbelievable player.
“We are all on the same page.”
Facing Tonga on Sunday the Boks will chase a bonus-point win with a substantial points difference – to put themselves in a commanding position to advance to the play-offs from Pool B.
“This is a big week for us. It’s a knockout game,” Le Roux said.
“Tonga is going to be a brutal game. They have some big boys there.”
With physical players like Malakai Fekitoa (capped 24 times by the All Blacks) and Salesi Piutau (17 Tests for New Zealand), the Boks backline’s defence will be tested.
Having faced them many times in Super Rugby, he also opposed Fekitoa on the international stage years ago.
“He is an unbelievable player that can do anything from anywhere on the field,” Le Roux told @rugby365com.
“You have to be alert at all times and our defence must be up for it.”