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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Damian Willemse thanks ‘incredible man’, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber for believing in him

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Johannesburg – Damian Willemse has posted his appreciation for Jacques Nienaber, thanking his “boss” with a heartfelt message on Instagram in which he describes the Springbok mentor as an “incredible man”, “smart”, and “loyal”.

The Bok utility-back, if he can still be typecast as such, had an incredibly important year with the senior national side by taking the responsibility of wearing the flyhalf jersey after there was real concern regarding the depth in that position.

He applied himself as the No 10 after the injury to Handre Pollard and off-field drama of Elton Jantjies, with aplomb. In all, Willemse played 12 of the 13 Tests this year, starting at fullback but eventually finished as the pivot in all four of the End-of-Year-Tour matches.

And, according to the 24-year-old, his success on the field has much to do with Nienaber.

“Thank you boss for all that you do for me and our team,” Willemse posted earlier this week.

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“You are an incredible man and coach, and it was a privilege to play for you this year. You are a true legend and pioneer for all the work you have done to make our team more diverse and inclusive.

“Smart, tough, and loyal are a few words to describe your style. I will always remember our conversations before training this autumn and how you kept backing me. We all benefited from your leadership and guidance and I’m so proud of what we accomplished in 2022.”

Willemse is expected to most likely return to the Stormers squad in their defence of the United Rugby Championship and push for Heineken Cup glory in December. As revealed by the union, he will take a few days off – along with his Bok teammates – to recoup from a testing tour.


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