KOBE – Damian Willemse arrived in Japan on Wednesday as an injury replacement for Jesse Kriel, and it was a moment of sheer joy for the 21-year-old from Cape Town, who had missed most of the season with a knee injury.
On Tuesday he runs out against Canada at the Kobe Misaki Stadium in the Springboks' final Pool B match.
Erasmus has said that Willemse would have made the World Cup squad if he wasn’t injured, and now the utility back has an opportunity to show the world just what he is capable of.
Willemse is a thrilling talent who can play at fly-half, inside-centre and full-back, and it is at the latter that he will make his World Cup debut against Canada.
Willemse is in the same category as Cheslin Kolbe, with his dancing feet, ability to cut defences and steadiness under the high ball.
He will form a potentially explosive back-three combination with Warrick Gelant and S’bu Nkosi against the Canucks.
"We haven’t played together before – I think I only played with S’bu in the England test match (in 2018). Looking forward to playing with Warrick. Both of them are good finishers, so hopefully I can get the ball to them, and they can do their magic," Willemse said.