Champions Cup: Stormers shift Damian Willemse to full-back to strengthen defence against London Irish

Champions Cup: Damian Willemse looks on for the Stormers Credit: Alamy
Champions Cup: Damian Willemse looks on for the Stormers Credit: Alamy

Stormers head coach John Dobson revealed that shifting Damian Willemse to full-back this weekend was to boost his side’s defensive structures.

Willemse has matured tremendously over the last year and is now a world-class option at inside centre, full-back and fly-half, much to Dobson’s benefit.

Improved defence

The coach explained that Willemse’s understanding of the Stormers‘ defensive structures and his ability to launch a counterattack was behind the decision to switch the star from 12 to 15 for the clash against London Irish.

Shifting the Springbok to full-back also allows the in-form Dan du Plessis to pair with Ruhan Nel in the centres.

“He [Willemse] has a really good understanding of our defensive system,” said Dobson.

“We picked up a lot of criticism for our defence last week.

“If we use that line-speed then we need the full-back to have an advanced understanding of both their kicking threat and know how to close [space], so I think that is very good for us.

“Also, the way he can launch our counter-attacks. We have a certain plan this week, and I think he will be useful there.

“We think that Dan [du Plessis] and Ruhan is an exceptional centre combination.

“We wanted to change one or two things from last week, so it just fits our plan for this week.”

Defensive leader

Veteran Nel returns from injury this weekend, much to the delight of Dobson, who values the centre’s role in the defensive structures hugely.

“He is probably our defensive leader,” he said.

“We had Suleiman [Hartzenberg] in there, and he is in his first year out in senior rugby, and it is a lot to absorb with a lot of detail.

“It [outside centre] is a very complex position to defend, and they say it’s the hardest position on the field.

“We were also certainly not going to leave Dan du Plessis out at the moment with the way he has been playing, so that is how we selected the team.”

The Stormers will be hoping to fix their woes in the northern hemisphere of late after losing to Glasgow Warriors last weekend in the United Rugby Championship.

READ MORE: Champions Cup: Leicester’s Wigglesworth delighted to qualify for last 16 after Clermont win

The article Champions Cup: Stormers shift Damian Willemse to full-back to strengthen defence against London Irish appeared first on Planetrugby.com.