Following a physical and mental break from the game, Damian Willemse is refreshed and ready to give his best for the DHL Stormers.
The playmaker is back in the mix for the clash with Vodacom United Rugby Championship log-leaders Leinster in Dublin on Friday, having recently returned from a three-week Springbok conditioning camp.
The 24-year-old says that the break was just what he needed and he returns hungrier than ever to get back to active duty for the reigning champions.
“The mental break for me, being off for a few weeks and resting the body as well, helped a lot,” Willemse said. “And when the boys and I got back into camp with the DHL Stormers everyone was hungry and ready to go again.
“So it was lekker to have a bit of a break and then get back into the action.
“The conditioning camp was tough; we pushed ourselves to another level, and I think the preparation from Andy Edwards [head of athletic performance for the Boks] and the medical team was great and put us in a good position to go back to our franchises and compete to the best of our ability and stay sharp.”
Willemse has been watching the DHL Stormers’ progress with interest and is keen to start contributing to the cause again.
“The boys have been playing great rugby and standing up to some tough challenges, home and away. I’m immensely proud of each and every squad member for keeping our dream alive in the Vodacom URC, and credit to the coaches as well,” Willemse said.
“It shows that we’re all working towards a common goal and everyone’s buying into it.
“Winning the SA Shield again is also great for us, very happy with us claiming it, but we know we still have to go another step if we want to defend our Vodacom URC title.”
The DHL Stormers on Friday will face a Leinster side that has been unstoppable this season in the Vodacom URC, and are set to clash for the first time in Dublin.
“We’re all excited, being our first trip to the RDS Arena, and Leinster is a great side and they’re the log-leaders,” Willemse said. “I’m buzzing for the challenge.
“If we play to our strengths and implement the game plan that we want to play, it’ll be a huge confidence boost for us going into the playoffs.
“We’re going there to make ourselves proud. We might play them again in the final if both teams advance in the competition, so we’re going there to win the game.”