The 23-year-old Willemse, who earned his 12th Test cap in the Springboks’ second match against Argentina in Nelson Mandela Bay almost two weeks ago, covers fullback, flyhalf and inside centre – a challenge which excites him.
“I’m really fortunate to be in the squad and I’ve been enjoying the challenge,” said the former Junior Springbok player.
“Playing in the Tests against the British & Irish Lions and then Argentina helped me develop my skillset and game management.
“As with any challenge it will take hard work, but the coaches back me and I want to make the most of the opportunity if I am in the matchday 23 (in the Tests against Australia and New Zealand).
“I am happy with where the team is going and the trust the coaches have placed in me, and I am looking forward to the next four weeks.”
Elaborating on his versatility, Willemse said: “I don’t have a favourite position, my goal is to be selected for the matchday squad.
“We have a lot of quality players in the squad with between 40 and over 70 Test caps, such as Frans Steyn, Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel and Morné Steyn who I am competing with. But it is all about understanding the game plan and executing it as effectively as possible.
“I am looking forward to developing my skillset as much as I can, so we can build on the performances we have delivered so far this season as a team.”
Despite competing for a position with Frans Steyn, Willemse said the veteran Springbok back’s willingness to share his knowledge and experiences with the younger players in the group speaks volumes about his character as a true Springbok.
“I’ve been training with Frans all week,” said Willemse.
“He is such a chilled guy, but he is also working very hard on his game. He also brings a sense of calm and he always comes up with a plan.
“He’s been helping a lot of the youngsters such as me, Aphelele Fassi and Grant Williams, not only with our game management but also teaching us a few tricks.”
Willemse was thrilled that the team would return to action next week Sunday when they line up against Australia at CBUS Super Stadium in Gold Coast, and said they had to be on point to come away with the desired result.
“Aphelele and I were talking earlier about how small the margins are in Test rugby,” said Willemse.
“One mistake can cost you five or seven points with the opposition’s skillful play, so we need to play smart rugby and ensure that we do not make errors at the back.”
While he emphasised that the team were focused on one task – playing the best rugby they can as they attempt to defend their Castle Lager Rugby Championship title – Willemse said the prospect of being able to roam around in Queensland after two weeks of quarantine and several weeks of being confined to their hotels due to COVID-19 protocols, was exciting.
“Everyone is excited to experience normal life again,” said Willemse.
“We’ve been in a bubble for a while now, but we are enjoying one another’s company. We are training hard, but we have also been playing cricket and having some fun.
“As much as we are looking forward to it (being out of quarantine), the main thing for us in the next four weeks is rugby. We have to ensure that we continue to deliver the results on the field.”