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    Fullback shift allows for Willemse 'magic' - Fleck

    2019-02-22 08:33

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - Damian Willemse has been backed at fullback for the Stormers when they host the Lions in Saturday's Super Rugby clash at Newlands in the hope that the shift will give him more freedom to express himself. 

    The 20-year-old started in the No 10 jersey in last weekend's embarrassing 40-3 thumping at the hands of the Bulls at Loftus, but this week under-fire coach Robbie Fleck has turned to Jean-Luc du Plessis in the playmaker role. 

    Du Plessis is fully fit again after two torrid years of injuries, and Fleck will be looking to him for an element of calm and control against a Lions side that will be heavily favoured to secure a win in Cape Town. 

    While Willemse is one of the most naturally exciting attacking players in the South African game currently, he came unstuck against a rush Bulls defence last weekend that gave him little to no time to impact proceedings. 

    In Du Plessis, Fleck has an intelligent footballer who has slick distribution and that game management will be key on Saturday. 

    While Fleck has been vocal on his belief that Willemse has the makings of a world class flyhalf, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will be pleased to see him at fullback this weekend given that is where he is being tipped to play at this year's World Cup as cover to Willie le Roux. 

    "I think that he is a quality flyhalf and he still has the makings to be a great flyhalf. It's something he is desperate to still work on," Fleck said of Willemse on Thursday.

    "Playing at fullback means he gets to see things differently and he probably has a bit more time and space to do the magic that he has got. It allows him a bit of freedom.

    "I think he's capable of playing both. He's played fullback for the Springboks and he is very keen to pursue it as well without letting go of playing flyhalf.

    "He is still learning and with modern day line speed time and space is taken away and the Bulls put him under some line speed. He probably battled a little bit with that, but the whole team battled.

    "As a young kid it is important that he gets as much game time as possible."

    Willemse's pace and skill make him a dangerous option at fullback and he is perhaps the most like-for-like replacement for the injured Dillyn Leyds, but much of the focus on Saturday will be on what Du Plessis brings. 

    "It's good to have him back in the mix. It's an opportunity for him now and he brings a bit of structure and organisation to our game," said Fleck.

    "Hopefully he an play with some confidence ... he is coming come from some big injuries."

    Kick-off is at 17:15

    Teams:

    Stormers

    15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak

    Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Dan du Plessis

    Lions

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Nic Groom, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith

    Substitutes: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Sti Sithole, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 23 Sylvian Mahuza 

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    Friday, 29 March 2019
    • Hurricanes v Crusaders, Westpac Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Sunwolves, McDonald Jones Stadium 10:45
    Saturday, 30 March 2019
    • Blues v Stormers, Eden Park 08:35
    • Reds v Rebels, Suncorp Stadium 10:45
    • Sharks v Bulls, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 15:05
    • Jaguares v Chiefs, Estadio Jose Amalfitani 23:40
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    • Highlanders v Hurricanes, Forsyth Barr Stadium 08:35
    • Reds v Stormers, Suncorp Stadium 11:00
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airline Park 19:10

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