Cape Town — When you glance at Damian Willemse’s Instagram page, you will soon discover that he is so much more than just a rugby player.
The Springbok and Stormers star often posts about the jet-setting life outside of the rugby pitch, with visits to his beloved Strand beach mixed with dinners at classy European restaurants.
Stormers' star Damiam Willemse loves clocking up the air miles following their two-week trip to Scotland and England. pic.twitter.com/0FCuSm5Wvt— IOL Sport (@IOLsport) January 18, 2023
Willemse is certainly clocking up the air miles, and having arrived back in Cape Town on Tuesday night following a two-week trip to Scotland and England — where the Stormers lost to Glasgow and beat London Irish — you would understand if the 24-year-old has had enough of aeroplanes for now: perhaps as a rugby player, if not “influencer“ …
“Love flying! Over the past two or three weeks, we have been getting a lot of air miles, but it’s just good to be back home and we are all looking forward to this weekend,” the playmaker said on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup clash against Clermont Auvergne at Cape Town Stadium (7.30pm kick-off).
“The flight back (from London) wasn’t that bad, and the travelling is done for a while now — some of us are heading off to Belfast next week (to face Ulster in the United Rugby Championship)…
“It (all the travel) is tough, I can’t lie, for us as players. But it is something that we are sort of used to. We travel to Europe and back almost every two weeks, and it’s something we have to adapt to and make the best of the situation.
“Then you have to put more emphasis on your recovery, what you eat and make sure you prepare in other areas to ensure you can perform at your best on the weekend.
“The travel is a bit challenging, as we have the game this weekend and then travel back to Europe … It’s not easy, but it’s something that we can’t sit and complain about, as we have a match to win this weekend.”
Willemse will get a welcome break soon as all the top Springboks will be rested over February and March to recharge their batteries ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France that starts in September.
But having signed a contract extension last September, which will keep him in the Cape until 2027 at least, Willemse feels that he is in top shape and wants to give his all for the Stormers.
“Physically and mentally, I think I am in a good spot. Our coaches and management have been doing a great job with resting us and with our prep throughout the week,” he said.
“It’s something that they manage very well, and for myself, I am in a good spot mentally and physically to still perform to my best.”
Meanwhile, good news for the Stormers is that star No 8 Evan Roos, who has been out of action since the England Test in November with a rib injury, is likely to be back in the selection frame against Clermont.
“At this stage, Evan is looking good. He was at home training for the past two weeks, and I think he is doing his final fitness test tomorrow – but he is looking good,” backline coach Dawie Snyman said on Wednesday.
“Herschel (Jantjies) should be back (from a rib injury as well), so there are one or two guys who are ready to go.”