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‘I am in the Bombsquad, and I do have a new role there’, says Springbok’s Willie Le Roux

Willie Le Roux will be hoping to make an impact from the bench against Wales. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Willie Le Roux will be hoping to make an impact from the bench against Wales. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Jun 30, 2022


Johannesburg - Wille le Roux will be in the, yo.

Le Roux – a veteran of 72 Test caps – has been selected on the bench for the first Test against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (kick-off 5pm), making way for Damian Willemse to get only his fifth start for the Boks this weekend.

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It was arguably the biggest surprise this past week when head coach Jacques Nienbaber announced his matchday 23, and Le Roux will have an important duty to fulfill as he, along with the only other back on the bench – Herscel Jantjies – will be expected to cover multiple positions.

The 32-year-old, however, admitted on Thursday that he is ready for any eventuality, while also hinting at where he will most likely slot in when he does take to the field.

“I am in the Bombsquad, and I do have a new role there,” said Le Roux.

“We will see when I come on, where I will slot in. I think it will be fullback. We have a few guys that can cover other positions.

“I am excited to still be in the 23. Even if I am not there, just serving (the team) - holding bags, painting pictures for the side - whatever my role is, I am happy to do that.

“Maybe in the second half, after they guys have done their job in the first half, it opens up a bit and then we can have a crack at it.”

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The inference here is that if No 10 for the encounter, Elton Jantjies, is replaced or injured, starting fullback Willemse will most likely slot into the No 10 channel.

Le Roux, however, has been spotted at training operating at flyhalf and he explained: "I have been running there the last two weeks because of the limited numbers in the squad. There wasn’t another guy at 10, so I just took it. Playing at fullback, you are coming in at 10, so it doesn't matter where they pick me, I will be able to do the job."

Nevertheless, the experienced Le Roux fully believes that Willemse has all the skills and talents to do something special on the day; and will have a long future ahead of him, despite currently being typecast as a utility-back.

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“He has been moved around,” Le Roux admitted, “but he is a great rugby player and he can play multiple positions.

“He slots into fullback very easily and he understands the role there. There were little things here and there where I helped him in the week, like his positioning; when to send up your wings; and when to hold them back a bit.

“We are good mates, we come from the same school (both are Paul Roos alum). He will do a good job and he is the right man. I am very excited to see him play.”

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The general consensus amongst fans and pundits alike in the build-up to the first Test has been that the Boks will dominate their less-fancied opponents. All the Boks – players and management – have vehemently cautioned against such optimism this past fortnight. Le Roux was no different.

“The last couple of games against Wales have always been close – one or two points, like in the (2019) World Cup semi-final. It is always, always going to be a tough game against them.

"They don’t go away. They don’t play rugby in their half. They play smart.

“They have a very good coaching staff that analyses you and checks for your weaknesses. We are going to have to go to the gutters with them and we are going to have to see who can live there the longest.”

It was a belief shared by fellow bombsquad member Herscel.

Said the Bok scrumhalf: “We are expecting a very physical contest from Wales, and a lot of kicking …

“It will be important for us to not overplay our hand. I expect Ox (Nche – the starting prop for the encounter) and them to smash them in the first half and like Willie said, maybe in the second half it can be a bit more open for us.”

Le Roux and Jantjies revealed these insights in the north of Johannesburg at the announcement that Toyota will become the new official vehicle sponsor for the Springboks in a three year deal.