Coach Allister Coetzee and captain Jean de Villiers are backing first-time starter Devon Williams to step up to the plate when the DHL Stormers take on the Cheetahs in Vodacom Super Rugby action this coming weekend.
The 22-year-old speedster – the leading try-scorer in the 2014 Vodacom Cup – was on Tuesday named in the DHL Stormers’ No.11 jersey, having come off the bench (on debut) against the Lions last Saturday.
“I think Devon has settled in nicely and came off the bench last week, so we’re all looking forward to see him play this weekend,” Coetzee told the official DHL Stormers website, www.iamastormer.com.
“Devon has proven himself in the Under-21 competition last year and he is the top try-scorer this year in the Vodacom Cup as well, so it is a great opportunity and it shows that when you do well you will be rewarded with an opportunity in the system.
Whilst some have questioned Williams’s slight frame – his build is similar to that of Cheslin Kolbe, who is due back in the selection mix next weekend – captain Jean de Villiers has no worries about his physicality.
“He’s got blistering pace – that’s something you can’t coach. He has been scoring a helluva lot of tries at Under-21 and Vodacom Cup level and he’s slotted into the squad with ease.
“He has got a bit of ‘X-factor’ and he is looking to put up a big performance this weekend and as a team we are backing him to do so,” added De Villiers.
“The thing that makes rugby such a special sport is that all shapes and sizes can play the game. I think the way that Gio Aplon has performed over the years has shown that. Devon has been performing now and Cheslin Kolbe is in the same mould.
“If you are good enough you are old enough and young enough, but also you are big enough and small enough. He has shown what he can do and now it is his opportunity to show what he can do at Super Rugby level from a starting point and we are backing him as a team and he is very confident.”
Apart from his pace and finishing ability, Williams also gives the team a new left-footed kicking option in the absence of injured wing/fullback Gio Aplon.
“Devon is an exciting winger and given the opportunity I am sure he will finish. He has got the pace and a good left boot as well. So it’s similar to what we had with Gio Aplon with a left-footed option that he brings to the team,” enthused Coetzee.
“This guy in broken field can punish teams, if you saw the try he scored in the (DHL Stormers) warm-up game against Boland. He has got a bit of an ‘X-factor’ and I hope that Jean and Juan (de Jongh) will be able to create space for him and put him in gaps.”
Saturday’s clash between the Cheetahs and the DHL Stormers – at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein – kicks-off at 17h05.