John Dobson says he believes flyhalf Damian Willemse (pictured) is being overly criticised. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
John Dobson says he believes flyhalf Damian Willemse (pictured) is being overly criticised. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Dobson comes out in defence of Willemse

By Wynona Louw Time of article published Mar 12, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – Stormers coach John Dobson says he believes flyhalf Damian Willemse is being overly criticised.

The young pivot hasn’t been on fire in 2020, and while it hasn’t been all bad, there has been quite a lot of talk about his Super Rugby performances this season.

Dobson has often said that he would continue to back the Springbok No 10, and he has.

This week, though, Jean-Luc du Plessis looks set to start at flyhalf, with Willemse moving to the fullback position.

“If you watch that Blues game again you’ll see that it had nothing to do with Damian Willemse, it was our pack not working,” Dobson said about the game the Stormers lost 33-14 at Newlands.

“I think we must be pretty forensic and aware of emotional generalisations.

"People say he’s on the ground a lot, he’s on the ground on the counter-attack where he runs the ball back.

"He is on the ground a lot for a flyhalf, but largely Damian had been doing the job.

“There’s a lot about his general game we’re happy with. Unfortunately people see him miss the poles, they see his penalty kicks not going the distance - which is absolutely valid - and they see the knock (against the Blues), so that stigmatises him.

“He’s not on top of his game, but I think he’s being overly criticized.”

Dobson also touched on how the team are handling the loss of star forward Pieter-Steph du Toit to injury.

Following their poor showing against the Blues, their only loss of the season, it was confirmed that the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year had sustained a hematoma to hiss thigh that required surgery.

It was yet another injury setback for the Stormers, who had also lost Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi to long-term injuries before that.

“Ja, it’s obviously a big blow. People talk about this pack but we’ve got three World Cup-winning Springbok forwards out with serious injuries,” Dobson said.

“They (the players) are quite resilient. I think the shame of the performance against the Blues and how we worked ... if you get beat but you don’t work you’re quite ashamed, especially when you show the guys the clips.

“So that’s the main drive, they want to bounce back. Pieter-Steph hasn’t really been talked about so much.”

The Stormers will face the Sharks at Kings Park at 3.05pm on Saturday.

@WynonaLouw



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