EXTRACT

That stunned me. I couldn’t believe that Willemse was ever 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 Springbok jersey.

He had the misfortune of being part of the country’s worst-yet World Cup squad in 2003, but it says something that he was one of only two backline players (along with Jaque Fourie) to survive to the next tournament, which South Africa won.

What struck me most about Ashwin Willemse walking out of the SuperSport studio mid-broadcast on Saturday night was his one comment referring to his own 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.”  That stunned me. I couldn’t believe that Willemse was ever 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 Springbok jersey.  He had the misfortune of being part of the country’s worst-yet World Cup squad in 2003, but it says something that he was one of only two backline players (along with Jaque Fourie) to survive to the next tournament, which South Africa 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 imaginati...

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