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Damian Willemse embracing utility role for the Boks

Damian Willemse insists he doesn’t care what position he plays for the Springboks, as his only goal is making the team.

The 23-year-old Willemse, who has quietly earned 12 caps for the Springboks, covers fullback, flyhalf and inside centre – and is embracing the challenge of having to assume multiple roles in the backline.

“I’m really fortunate to be in the squad and I’ve been enjoying the challenge,” said the former Junior Bok.

“Playing in the Tests against the British & Irish Lions and then Argentina helped me develop my skillset and game management.

“As with any challenge it will take hard work, but the coaches back me and I want to make the most of the opportunity if I am in the matchday 23 (in the Tests against Australia and New Zealand).

“I am happy with where the team is going and the trust the coaches have placed in me, and I am looking forward to the next four weeks.”

Willemse again insisted he did not have a favourite position and is willing to play wherever he’s needed.

“I don’t have a favourite position, my goal is to be selected for the matchday squad.

“We have a lot of quality players in the squad with between 40 and over 70 Test caps, such as Frans Steyn, Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel and Morné Steyn who I am competing with. But it is all about understanding the game plan and executing it as effectively as possible.

“I am looking forward to developing my skillset as much as I can, so we can build on the performances we have delivered so far this season as a team.”

While Willemse may be competing with Frans Steyn for a position, he said the veteran Springbok has been more than willing to share his knowledge and experience with the younger players in the group.

“I’ve been training with Frans all week,” said Willemse.

“He is such a chilled guy, but he is also working very hard on his game. He also brings a sense of calm and he always comes up with a plan.

“He’s been helping a lot of the youngsters such as me, Aphelele Fassi and Grant Williams, not only with our game management but also teaching us a few tricks.”

The Boks have already arrived in Queensland, Australia, for their upcoming Rugby Championship matches, and Willemse said being able to roam around freely after two weeks of quarantine and several weeks of being confined to their hotels due to Covid-19 protocols was a welcome change.

“Everyone is excited to experience normal life again,” Willemse added.

“We’ve been in a bubble for a while now, but we are enjoying one another’s company. We are training hard, but we have also been playing cricket and having some fun.

“As much as we are looking forward to it (being out of quarantine), the main thing for us in the next four weeks is rugby. We have to ensure that we continue to deliver the results on the field.”

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