Damian Willemse has shown potential to become a great flyhalf. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Individually and, of course, in terms of position, there’s a big difference between Damian Willemse and Marco van Staden and Cyle Brink.

But the one thing that the uncapped Springbok trio have in common is quality.

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus made a good call when he decided to take a closer look at these three, so now the only question that needs answering is how they’ll go if they get a chance in the Rugby Championship, starting with the match against Argentina in Durban next Saturday (5pm kick-off).

We’ll have to wait and see, but here’s a look at why we don’t think we can expect too much disappointment.

Marco van Staden

The inclusion of two new squad members in Marco van Staden and Francois Louw gives Erasmus two additional options at No6.

With the kind of performances that Van Staden has produced at openside flanker this season, and last year as well, it’s no surprise that he made it onto Rassie’s radar.

A knee injury against the Brumbies just before the international break ruined the hard-to-bring-down fetcher’s chances of cracking into the Springbok squad.

But he has a chance now, and judging by Erasmus’ enthusiasm when it comes to the Bulls loose forward, it’s safe to assume we can expect to see him somewhere in the Rugby Championship.

“Marco probably would have started in the England Test matches as the first-choice and then the match before that series, the last one that the Bulls played, his knee went,” Erasmus said.

“Since then he’s been playing as an out-and-out opensider like Francois Louw and Heinrich Brüssow and those guys. It’s nice to have somebody like that in the fold.”

Marco van Staden has been outstanding as a blindside flanker for the past two seasons. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Cyle Brink

Predominantly a blindside flank, Cyle Brink has worn both the No6 and No7 jerseys for the Lions  and he hasn’t disappointed in either jumper.

The 24-year-old is as much known for his monstrous ball-carrying as he is for smashing his opponents behind the gain line, and if he manages to introduce those powerful tackles, as well as all his other regular contributions to the Argentinians or even the Kiwis or the Aussies, I can see the Boks’ 2018 Championship campaign not being a good one for Brink.

While he can probably be described as more of a hard-carrying enforcer-type as opposed to a ball-hawk in the mould of some of the game’s finest fetchers, Brink’s presence can certainly up the ante at the breakdown, or in the Bok lose trio in general, albeit off the bench.

Cyle Brink has impressed both at No6 and No7 for the Lions. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Damian Willemse

At a press conference in Stellenbosch earlier this week, Erasmus said that the Stormers flyhalf is ready for Test rugby and that he will get a run against Argentina; it just might not be at No10.

“He reminds me of Frans Steyn, a guy who is ready to play Test rugby from a very young age. He will get his chance against Argentina.

“No flyhalf under the age of 24 has ever won a World Cup,” Erasmus added.

“The No10 is your quarterback. He is the guy who has to take control.

“At this point, though, it may be a better idea to play Damian at 15 where there is less pressure.”

A few stints at fullback might help Willemse’s vision, but the fate of a utility back and all that moving around – never really settling – has rarely been a fruitful one.

There can be no doubt about Willemse’s talent and ability, and he certainly can do with some more growth. But Willemse is a flyhalf, and he should be blooded as such. A stint or two at the back can perhaps help in terms of assessing and studying on-field situations from the back, but if he’s to evolve into the great general that he appears destined become, then game time in that position – under Test-level pressure – can’t be a bad thing for the hot-stepping, hard-working pivot. All in all, his introduction to international rugby is an exciting prospect.

Weekend Argus

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