Willemse straight into action for Canada meeting

first_imgIt took Damian Willemse less than a week in the Springbok camp to make his first start in this year’s World Cup.The gifted 21-year-old utility back, who on Monday replaced the injured Jesse Kriel in the squad, will slot in at fullback for Tuesday’s meeting with Canada in Kobe.While coach Rassie Erasmus made 13 changes to the team that hammered Italy 49-3 on Friday, the exercise proved nonetheless tricky for him given that South Africa only have a four-day turnaround.Damian de Allende, together with Cheslin Kolbe the Boks’ star backline player in the tournament to date, has to start once again because of the gaping hole left by Kriel in midfield, while skipper Siya Kolisi also has little time to recover from the bumps in Shizuoka.In mitigation, Kolisi’s on a mission to regain full match fitness.“A four-day turnaround between Tests is a challenge but we had planned for it and will be well prepared,” said Erasmus.“This match is just as important as the three that we have already played – it has the same number of log points available and the same impact on our chances of qualifying and we have to now complete the job.”Several starters from the Italy win will also provide Erasmus with so-called insurance on the bench, with Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Handre Pollard and Willie le Roux all present.Erasmus isn’t too perturbed by the experimental-looking starting XV.“There are a number of new combinations in our team, but we have been together for several weeks now and everyone understands our gameplan and strategies. The nice thing is that at the end of the match every member of the squad will have started a Rugby World Cup match.“But the first thing we have to focus on is winning the match and securing a place in the quarter-finals.”Springboks: Damian Willemse, Warrick Gelant, Damian de Allende, Frans Steyn, S’bu Nkosi, Elton Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (c), Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Vince Koch, Schalk Brits, Thomas du Toit. Bench: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Herschel Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Willie le Roux.For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img

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