On the day when Stormers flyhalf Brandon Thomson was given permission to quit Western Province‚ skills coach Paul Feeney hinted teenage sensation Damian Willemse was the future at flyhalf for the union.
Thomson‚ 22‚ played seven times for the Stormers‚ including starting in 2016’s 60-21 home quarterfinal loss to the Chiefs. His request for an early release from his contract was granted.
Thomson had fallen behind Jean-Luc du Plessis‚ Rob du Preez and Kurt Coleman in the flyhalf queue in 2016 and fell further back in 2017, when Willemse came bursting into the setup brimming with once-in-a-generation talent.
Thomson‚ who played for the Junior Springboks in 2015‚ asked for an early release so he could join the Glasgow Warriors full time. He spent a few months there earlier in 2017.
Thomson will stay until September‚ when Du Preez is expected to be fit to resume his duties‚ before departing for Glasgow where he will fall under current Chiefs coach Dave Rennie‚ who starts at the Scottish club next season.
"Brandon’s pathway, through our system, shows that we are identifying and developing talented players‚ which is encouraging‚" said Western Province director of rugby Gert Smal. "He still has an important role to play for us before he leaves‚ but this [playing for Glasgow Warriors] is a great opportunity for him and we wish him all the best."
Meanwhile, Feeney praised Willemse’s efforts after his run-on debut for the Stormers against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Saturday‚ which included a well-taken try.
"It’s great he got a try. It was a good little gap he spotted and he stayed in support on the inside‚" said Feeney.
"He also kicked very well for the sideline — three or four times off penalties, his kicking for the sideline carved off at least 40m‚ without much of an angle to work with.
"Our last try from the line-out when we were down 33-34‚ he put that ball within 10m of the try line from halfway.
"He made a few mistakes but I expected him to make some.
"He has been given the opportunity and he would have been very nervous last Saturday. I am expecting him to play better again this week.
"But it is all about the video analyses so he can learn‚ how he is making his decisions and where he is looking at his age. As we all know, it is all about experience," he said.
"Every minute he gets at this level, the better he is going to get over the next while. As a coaching group‚ we were very pleased with his [run-on] debut," Feeney said.