Rassie Erasmus’s decision to deploy Damian Willemse at flyhalf when he came on as a second half substitute against the Pumas was no ruse.
It had been widely expected that Willemse would go to fullback in the place of Willie le Roux but with the match still in the balance after the hour mark‚ the coach went for what he believed was the safer option.
He explained that he still needed Le Roux’s experience in the back three alongside green horn wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi. He could not replace Handré Pollard with Willemse either so instead he curtailed inside centre Andre Esterhuizen’s activity‚ moved Pollard to second receiver which paved the way for Willemse at flyhalf.
"The coach spoke to me at half time‚" said Willemse about the decision to slot in at 10. "He said to me the game is tight and he’s going to put me on at 10. I got myself ready for that."
Once in the thick of things‚ Willemse had a bit of a mixed bag debut. The horror pass he threw led to an intercept try for Matias Moroni. "These things happen‚" the 20-year-old said coolly. "It is fixable. I’m just glad I got a run. Obviously it is not the ideal start for me. Not the start I wanted or the team wanted. I’m just glad I got a cap."
Willemse has been earmarked as a future star. He has the raw talent but he has also displayed maturity beyond his age. "It is simple. Wake up tomorrow morning‚ the sun will shine and I just keep on working hard. I just want to stay in the moment‚" he said.
"It is important to outwork and out learn them. I try and learn from other players. Take it all‚ throw it in one basket‚ shake it up and see what we come up with. You need a mature flyhalf or a quarterback. That maturity is important."
Willemse sees his future at flyhalf, but is happy to slot in where needed. "I prefer flyhalf. I’m available to play anywhere the coach picks me."
While Willemse might have had some mixed emotions‚ man of the match Dyantyi continues to ride the crest of the wave.
Dyantyi‚ who ran in two tries against the Pumas‚ has seen improvement in the Bok set-up since he joined their ranks earlier in 2018. "Considering we have just played three Tests under coach Rassie I think we are gelling really well.
"Every game we keep on building‚" he said.
Dyantyi could have completed a hat-trick but opted to pass the opportunity by off-loading to Mapimpi in the second half. "I felt he was in a better position to score‚" Dyantyi said succinctly. "For me the most important thing is us getting the result. "It doesn’t help if I score 50 tries and we lose all of those games.
"If I can score two tries in 20 games and we win all of them that is more important," he said.