What struck me most about Ashwin Willemse walking out of the SuperSport television studio in mid-broadcast on Saturday night was his one comment referring to his playing days. "I’ve played this game for a long time, like all of us here, you know. And as a player I was labelled a quota player for a long time… and I’ve worked hard to earn my own respect in this game," he said. That stunned me. I couldn’t believe that Willemse was labelled a quota player. He was a heck of a wing, and at his zenith he was one of the most deserving recipients of the Bok jersey. He had the misfortune of being part of the country’s worst World Cup squad in 2003, but it says something that he was one of only two backline players to survive to the next tournament, which SA won. In 2003 Willemse was a rare beacon, a lighthouse in arguably the dullest backline to wear the green and gold. At the time I remember wondering how South African rugby had regressed from imaginative players such as Danie Gerber, Peter ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now