Is Willie the Boks' Quade?
Willie le Roux (Gallo Images)
Durban - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers believes Willie le Roux can bring the same excitement to the South African rugby team that Quade Cooper brings to the Reds and Australia.
When Le Roux was still playing for the Boland Cavaliers before he moved to the Cheetahs, his unpredictable, innovative and exciting style of play earned him the reputation as South Africa's version of the Wallabies' Cooper.
Le Roux, who is equally at home at wing or at flyhalf, will be making his international debut in the no. 15 jersey for the Boks against Italy at Kings Park on Saturday.
And when the Bok skipper was asked what he thought about the comparison between the new Bok fullback and the Wallaby flyhalf, he said at the team hotel on Friday: "I think Willie le Roux is an exciting player. He's got fantastic skills and he's shown at Super Rugby level that he can score great tries. He has the ability to spark a team and has been at the forefront of the success of the Cheetahs team this season. So, the only way to see if he can do it at international level, is by giving him a chance."
De Villiers also feels it is his responsibility to create the evironment within the team that is conducive for a player like Le Roux to thrive.
"Obviously the pressure is going to be a bit more for Willie, but with the team we would like to give him as much confidence as possible. Being a senior guy you would like to give him the leadership to play his own game. He needs to play the way that warranted his selection in the first place," he said.
"Besides Willie, it's also great to have a guy like Jano (Vermaak) in the team. A lot of credit must go to Jano as well. He is someone who had a lot of offers from overseas, but decided to stay in South Africa to fulfill his dream of representing his country. Now he has got his opportunity. It great for him!
"It's also wonderful to have youngsters like Trevor (Nyakane), Jan (Serfontein) and Arno (Botha) in the side as well. It's really an honour to be able to lead an exciting team like this," he added.