Cape Town - Damian Willemse has gone from not being in the Springbok World Cup squad to wearing the No 15 jersey for Tuesday's Pool B clash against Canada in Kobe. 

The 21-year-old had been a part of coach Rassie Erasmus' World Cup plans since 2018, but a serious knee injury severely shortened his 2019 Super Rugby campaign and he had not recovered in time to be named in the World Cup squad. 

It was a tough one to take for the fleet-footed playmaker, who has been considered one of South African rugby's brightest young attacking prospects for some time now. 

He will get his chance on Tuesday, though, after having replaced the injured Jesse Kriel in the 31-man squad last week. 

It will be Willemse's sixth Test for the Boks, but only his second start. 

His only other start came in 2018 against England at Twickenham, where he also played at fullback. 

"We've got exciting outside backs for this game. It's good to have Damian joining us in our squad, even though it was sad to lose Jesse," Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said on Monday. 

Willemse will play behind S'bu Nkosi and Warrick Gelant on the wings in a new-look back three, and Stick is keen to see what he can offer. 

"I'm glad we could get an opportunity in the group stages to let all of these guys get some minutes behind them going into the playoffs," he said.

"We've seen what Damian has done before for this team where he played against England at Twickenham in front of around 85 000 people.

"A 21-year-old being able to perform at that level shows that he's got a proper head on his shoulders."

While Willemse is being given a run on Tuesday, South Africa's first-choice fullback remains Willie le Roux. 

Kick-off on Tuesday is at 12:15 (SA time). 


South Africa

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Warrick Gelant, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Thomas du Toit 

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux


15 Andrew Coe, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Conor Trainor, 12 Ciaran Hearn, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Phil Mack, 8 Tyler Ardron (captain), 7 Matt Heaton, 6 Lucas Rumball; 5 Kyle Baillie, 4 Evan Olmstead, 3 Jake Ilnicki, 2 Andrew Quattrin, 1 Hubert Buydens

Substitutes: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Matt Tierney, 19 Josh Larsen, 20 Michael Sheppard, 21 Jamie Mackenzie, 22 Shane O'Leary, 23 Guiseppe du Toit

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard