First and foremost a flyhalf, Willemse has been operating at fullback for the Stormers, as that is where Bok coach Rassie Erasmus wants to utilise him at Test level at this stage.
But now, instead of making a case for a World Cup squad, Willemse has been pushed down to the bench, with Dillyn Leyds coming in at No 15.
Leyds is also a classy playmaker, so his selection is welcome. But coach Robbie Fleck could’ve easily picked Willemse to start – in his preferred flyhalf position, or at fullback, with Leyds able to occupy left wing.
In his return to top rugby this year, Jean-Luc du Plessis hasn’t quite found his spark, especially on attack – which is where Willemse could ignite a potentially lethal backline.
In addition, SP Marais has offered little more than his goal-kicking this season, for which Willemse or Du Plessis could’ve taken responsibility.
Ntubeni gets an opportunity at hooker in place of Bongi Mbonambi, which is an interesting selection. There is no doubt that Mbonambi is the first-choice player, but Ntubeni has made a big impact off the bench this season, and deserves a start ahead of the upcoming tour of
Augustus replaces Jaco Coetzee, who shifts to the bench after being a late inclusion for the Sharks game due to the withdrawal of the injured Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
The former World Under-20 Player of the Year Augustus finally gets his big break, having battled with a few injuries recently. He is a strong ball-carrier, but will also be expected to play a key role as a lineout jumper and a heavy hitter in defence.
As expected, Steven Kitshoff has been cleared to play, and takes over from the injured Ali Vermaak.
15 Dillyn Leyds 14 Sergeal Petersen 13 Dan du Plessis 12 Damian de Allende 11 SP Marais 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis 9 Herschel Jantjies 8 Juarno Augustus 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 JD Schickerling 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Frans Malherbe 2 Scarra Ntubeni 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi 17 Corné Fourie 18 Wilco Louw 19 Cobus Wiese 20 Jaco Coetzee 21 Justin Phillips 22 Ruhan Nel 23 Damian Willemse.
— DHL STORMERS (@THESTORMERS) March 13, 2019