CAPE TOWN - Sonny Bill Williams’ hands redefined rugby, there’s no doubt about that. But now Cape Town has its own offloading centre to get excited about - and his name is EW Viljoen.

There’s good reason to get excited about this guy, and if you’ve seen him in his first season of Super Rugby with the Stormers, you’d know exactly why.

Actually, there’s a few reasons to sit up and watch this 21-year-old.

There’s that deceptive power that can often be seen in his fend. There’s his solid tackling and his ability to organise the Stormers’ backline defence. There’s those running lines. There’s his size that adds to him being a strong ball-carrier. 

And then there’s those hands... those hands that put his teammates away with silky passes. Those hands that have produced some of the best offloads we’ve seen by a South African player, and he showed all of that in a matter of weeks.

Viljoen has been great for the Stormers’ attacking cause since he made his debut against the Bulls in the Stormers’ season-opening win at Newlands.

He was instrumental against the Bulls, he was good against the Jaguares and he was also one to watch against the Kings in Port Elizabeth and the Sunwolves in Singapore.

And against the Cheetahs at Newlands last Saturday, he produced a number of offloads that were just plain brilliant.

Aside from his running, his defence, especially in the wider channels, and his overall work around the park, there were some superb offloads.

There was that magical one around a defender’s back to SP Marais, and then there was that over-the-head offload to Nizaam Carr.

Those were the two top ones, and that’s not even mentioning the variety of other attack-boosting offloads he gave to his fellow Stormers ... you know, the ones off the ground and the ones that were seemingly out of nowhere.

So yeah, EW can offload.

Am I being a bit overly optimistic in comparing him to SBW? Perhaps. But for what he’s produced until now, he certainly deserves the fuss.


Since this probably already sounds like a straight-up comparison, let me just make one thing clear.

I know that Viljoen doesn’t grip the ball in one hand like SBW does. You know, the way the New Zealander grips the ball in his right mitt like most hands grip a cheeseburger and toys with it as he flicks the Gilbert this way and that way, faking passes and generally making life difficult for those in charge of keeping it in check.

But this isn’t about comparing who has the most fun with the ball. It’s about recognising Viljoen’s talent and his ability to give South African rugby fans a local hero to go gaga over with his offloading skills.

For very long rugby fans all around the world have been raving over Williams’ skill, and now we have someone to rave about right here in Cape Town.

Yeah, Viljoen is still young and there’s a lot more he can learn. But seeing that those offloads have been coming through like that now already, I can’t wait to see what he continues to do with ball in hand as he grows in confidence.

Cape Times