Western Province rubbishes claims of R5m-a-year salary for Damian Willemse
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CAPE TOWN - While Damian Willemse doesn’t earn a R5 million-a-year salary as reported at the weekend, he’s a “special talent and deserves whatever he earns”, Stormers head coach John Dobson told the media on Wednesday.
On Sunday, Rapport disclosed that Western Province offered Willemse, one of the most talented players in the country, a R5M-a-year salary after the Bulls offered him R3.8M a year, more than what he was getting at WP at the time.
But, during a media briefing alongside WP Chair, Ebrahim Rasool, Dobson set the record straight.
“I think we have done very well so sustain the (player) group that we have. We are 15 percent below the salary cap, so we cannot be throwing this money around that has been alluded to,” he said.
“Damian’s incorrect salary was published, it’s considerably way off. I can’t tell you what his salary is, because that would go against what we’re saying right now. Someone wrote he’s not worth five million, but his total cost to Western Province is nowhere there.”
Willemse has had his fair share of cutting criticism spewed his way, especially before his move to fullback following the season-ending injury to Warrick Gelant, which left the No 15 position void of any real experience.
Dobson has always hailed Willemse’s work ethic, dedication to his craft and the needs of the team, as well as his maturity – something that no doubt would have helped him cope with all the flak as a 23-year-old who has sometimes not had the easiest of jobs as he’s had to shift between 10 and 15. He has, however, settled in really well at fullback and has shown a solid return to form that is also a positive for the national side.
“Damian has already suffered on social media when he misses a kick or whatever, now someone says he’s not worth that amount. He’s a special talent and, beyond that, a person. Damian grew up here, he trains extremely hard, whatever he earns, he deserves,” Dobson said.
“What’s happened to poor Damian now is unfortunate, but I will manage it within the team. The story about Bongi (Mbonambi) being offered more by us but going to the Sharks…that’s also untrue.”
Dobson added that he’s excited by the group they have managed to retain: “The prospect of having no contact upheavals for the next two or three years is exciting to us. We are also exciting about the senior players sticking around along with the younger players. So, in terms of the squad, I am happy, and by no means have they been kept together by a reckless cheque book.”
Rasool added that the report on Willemse’s salary crossed an ethical line.
“There is an ethical line when speculating about players’ salaries, especially when you get it wrong. Nobody should feel that speculation about a player’s salary devalues another player’s contributions.”