DHL Stormers flyhalf and Junior Springbok vice-captain Damian Willemse is relishing the opportunity to be back at the World Rugby U20 Championship and says he and his team-mates can’t wait for their opening match against Georgia on Wednesday.
The clash will mark Willemse’s first game for the Junior Boks this season after establishing himself as the DHL Stormers’ first-choice flyhalf in Vodacom Super Rugby.
“It is awesome to be here in France for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which is one of my favourite tournaments to participate in,” said Willemse.
“With the first game coming up we are really excited, and personally I am looking forward to playing my first game with the guys and getting the tournament underway.
“It is also special to be the vice-captain. It is really a big honour and privilege, and an opportunity I am cherishing.”
Willemse said the team had settled in well at their base in Gruissan in the south of France, which is just outside Narbonne, where they will play their last two pool matches.
“We have been here for a little over two days now, and we have settled in well,” said Willemse.
“We had our first training session yesterday and another today, which went well, and we are getting a lot of work done. Fortunately there is not a lot of change the guys have to adapt to, so it is almost like being back home, which has made it easy to settle in.”
Looking ahead at the team’s opening match against Georgia, which kicks off at Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan at 18h30 on Wednesday, Willemse said: “The team is really excited to get going. A lot of the preparation is now done and it is almost time to play the first match.
“There will certainly be a lot of passion and pride in that game, and we are expecting Georgia to have a fair amount of supporters. We know it is going to be tough and very physical, but our preparation has been good, and we will give everything on the field.”
The Junior Springboks will face Ireland on Sunday, 3 June, and hosts France on Thursday, 7 June, at the Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié in Narbonne respectively in their remaining pool matches.