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John Dobson is hoping Damian Willemse will ‘be all right’ for Bulls showdown

Damian Willemse of Stormers celebrates after Evan Roos scored a try against Ulster. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Damian Willemse of Stormers celebrates after Evan Roos scored a try against Ulster. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published Jun 13, 2022

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Cape Town - Nothing that was going to stop Damian Willemse from playing in that United Rugby Championship (URC) semi-final against Ulster, head coach John Dobson said after the game.

The in-form Willemse missed out on their URC quarter-final against Edinburgh with an elbow injury and, building up to the semi against Ulster, it seemed unlikely that he would prove his fitness in time for the clash at Cape Town Stadium.

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In the build-up to the fixture, which took place in front of 30 000 spectators, the Stormers mentor said that they would “scan him every day” in the hope that something changes.

The 24-year-old was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up for Saturday's clash, which the Stormers snatched in dramatic fashion after a last-minute try by fullback Warrick Gelant and a conversion by flyhalf Manie Libbok. It took the score to 17-15 for the hosts and set up an allSouth African final for between the Stormers and their rivals, the Bulls, who shocked Irish powerhouse Leinster in the first semi on Friday night.

Willemse has been outstanding at inside-centre throughout the season, but he was a behemoth at the weekend, and his performance was made only more impressive by his injury.

With a heavily strapped arm, the Springbok utility back produced a Man of the Match performance and didn't allow his injury to deter him from making big carries, putting in a strong defensive shift and getting in some nifty kicking out of hand.

Overall, it was an intensity-filled display.

ALSO READ: All hail Manie Libbok! Stormers never gave up, and were rewarded in the end

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Speaking after the thrilling contest, Dobson not only praised Willemse's production on the day, but also how dedicated he is to Stormers rugby.

“It's a credit to him, because he is not fully fit,” Dobson said after the match.

“He was in quite a bit of pain at some stages.

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“For him to come through and get Man of the Match in those circumstances is just brilliant. I hope he is all right for next week.

“He has got some form of compound fracture in his elbow, which is healing. Another week will help a lot.

“If anybody oozes blue and white in their veins, if anybody bleeds blue and white, it's Damian Willemse,” Dobson added.

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“He wasn't missing this game for anything. Late in the week, when the doctor said he could play, he shouted ‘yes man!’ out of the window at people in traffic.

“He is a special person and a special player, so I am very chuffed. It was amazing, you could see how heavily he was strapped.”

@WynonaLouw

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