CAPE TOWN - Stormers assistant coach Paul Feeney says Damian Willemse will “kill it” as an international flyhalf if he proves to have the right “computer” combined with his unmatched flair.
Feeney - the man in charge of the Stormers’ unstructured attack and defence - said that only time will tell how far the exciting 19-year-old Stormers pivot will go, but he is confident that Willemse can go the distance if he has the same rugby brain as many greats, compared with his talent.
“You’ll see once he gets to 30 or 40 games he’s a talent isn’t he. Curwin Bosch is (also) a talent. But only time will tell,” Feeney said.
Willemse followed his top performance against the Blues up with another good outing against the Reds at Newlands at the weekend.
His goal-kicking in recent weeks has been near flawless, his kicks out of hand have been good, his defence is always reliable, and he’s also done more than his fair share when it comes to keeping the opposition defences guessing.
Feeney was careful of “opening the lid too much” when it comes to expecting too much too soon from Willemse, but added that Willemse is one of the best talents he’s ever worked with.
“As a No 10 you have to be the brains of your team. It’s about the computer you have up here (in your head)," Feeney said.
"You have to push your team around the park and put them in position to win games and to know when to kick, when to run, when to pass, and tell the forwards what to do, so that’s all part of Damian’s game that he’s learning, his game management.
"It’s all about if he can grasp it. If he can’t grasp it he’ll struggle as a 10 and he’ll have to move to 12 or 15.
“He’s a super talent - he’s one of the most talented players I’ve ever coached. No 10 is a special position - will he be a Beauden Barrett or a (Johnny) Sexton or a (Jonny) Wilkinson or a (Dan) Carter?
Damian Willemse my new fav player ⚡️⚡️⚡️ kid can ball
"The No 10 isn’t there for flair, he’s there to push his team around the park and to be smart. But he’s got the bonus as he’s got more flair than anyone else.
“So if he can have the same brain as a Sexton or a Wilkinson or a (Andrew) Mehrtens or a Carter with his God-given talents, he’ll kill it.”
In other news,let’s seriously groom Damian Willemse,he is a young lad who’s got talent running out his ears!✌🏻#FutureBOK
Another backline player Feeney added a word on is wing Raymond Rhule, who produced a Man-of-the-Match performance with his sharp attacking play at on Saturday.
Rhule - who was a standout in their game against the Reds, a game that properly showed his finishing ability - has been been criticised heavily for his defence, and Feeney said that the truckload of criticism the former Cheetahs back has been dealt is “extremely harsh”.
“They don’t see the quality he brings to training either. He’s been great for us, he’s a great guy.
"Yeah he’s missed a couple of tackles, but no more than anyone else. I look after the unstructured defence, so I know who misses tackles and who doesn’t,” Feeney said.