Damian Willemse, for all his potential and occasional brilliance, is not worth a WP salary of R5 million a year … certainly not right now. And certainly not on performance.
The Stormers utility back Willemse was gifted a R5 million a year salary contract bonanza because the leadership wanted to deny the Bulls signing Willemse for R3.8 million a year, which was more than he was receiving at Western Province at the time.
So to deny the Bulls, they paid Willemse nearly R2million a year more in renewing his three year contract.
Brenden Nel, writing for the Rapport Newspaper, disclosed that the financially stricken union, under investigation for reckless governance, threw silly money in many directions, including at Willemse, who currently can’t make the Stormers team as the first choice flyhalf and is now being tried as a fullback.
Willemse, a product of Paul Roos in Stellenbosch, has a long and strong association with the family of South African billionaire Johann Rupert and Rupert’s wife is a driver behind improving the lives of many children through school funding and scholarships.
Willemse was a part of this tertiary scholarship programme at Paul Roos and it was expected that Willemse would join the Bulls when 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White took over a year ago.
Rupert, along with another South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, is one of the major investors at the Bulls.
Willemse, regarded as one of the most talented and naturally gifted players in South Africa, has also had to contend with injury over the past two years. Despite these hiccups, he made the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad and scored a try against Canada.
Willemse was viewed as being critical to the Stormers and Western Province title aspirations, but his continued inconsistency at flyhalf meant that coach John Dobson moved him to fullback.
Dobson has used several flyhalves ahead of Willemse but has been insistent that the player will come good for the Stormers and Western Province.
Willemse will be included in Jacques Nienaber’s extended Springboks squad, to be named in early June. He is unlikely to be available for Western Province until after the Rugby Championship.
The Stormers have two matches to play in the Rainbow Cup SA and those will be the last ones Willemse plays for the region until middle of October, when the Stormers will be playing in the expanded Pro Rugby competition.
Nel’s report, which led the paper’s back page, focused on the financial mess at Western Province and SA Rugby’s forced involvement as the national governing body tries to salvage the situation at Western Province and restore sanity in the financial decision-making, which has seen the union at risk of losing their property assets, said to be valued in excess of R600 million.
The club structure leadership within Western Province have lodged formal complaints at what they consider reckless expenditure within the professional ranks, especially at salaries for players they believe to be overpriced in the market place and not consistent with player performances and team results.
Willemse, for all his potential and occasional brilliance, is not worth R5 million a year … certainly not right now.
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