Willemse the latest fly-half to be linked
Bath Rugby’s search for additional options at fly-half continues to be focused in South Africa according to the latest reports.
Blue, Black and White director of rugby Stuart Hooper is now reported to be interested in signing emerging Springbok talent Damian Willemse from Super Rugby side Stormers.
Earlier this year Welsh centre Jamie Roberts went in the opposite direction as he made a surprise mid-season switch to the Cape Town based club.
Despite Bath being in outstanding form in the Gallagher Premiership since rugby returned in August from the COVID-19 pandemic enforced shutdown, winning seven out of the eight games in large part due to the hot form of Welsh international flyhalf Rhys Priestland, the club continue to be on the hunt for a fly-half.
Behind Priestland, who turns 34 in January, Bath’s depth in the 10 jersey is very shallow for such a pivotal role and in such a star studded squad, following the departure of England international fly-half Freddie Burns earlier this summer.
Burns was not offered a new contract at the club and has signed for Japanese side Shokki Shuttles.
Meanwhile Fijian international centre Josh Matavesi has manfully stepped into the breach when Priestland has been rested and impressed in a haphazard fashion, looking better running the ball than kicking it.
Looking to the future, young Tom de Glanville is also considered an option at stand-off, while the talented Cam Redpath can also step across from centre to 10 if required.
But Bath continue to be linked with international standard fly-halves in the transfer rumour mill, having had links with South African star Handre Pollard dismissed by the now seriously injured Montpellier back last month.
Wales fly-half Sam Davies was also linked with a potential switch to the Rec but now appears to be ready to agree a new deal to remain at the Dragons who are building their strongest squad in years.
Springbok Johan Goosen has also been mentioned in dispatches as an option for the club but is currently on a lucrative deal at Montpellier.
The Rugby Paper reported on Sunday that 22-year-old Willemse is Bath’s new target.
Willemse has already spent time in England after signing a short-term deal with Saracens in 2019 as injury cover for Alex Goode and Max Malins.
Like the Saracens duo he is able to play at full-back, fly-half and even centre, and was part of South Africa’s World Cup winning squad from earlier this season; however he played just once in the tournament in Japan in a big win over Canada in the group stages.
However with the injury to Pollard, Willemse looks set to be handed more opportunities on the international stage this season.
His Super Rugby side the Stormers handed the youngster a new contract until 2021 back in December meaning any move ahead of the fast approaching 2020/21 season, which will begin in England in November, looks unlikely.
South African side the Blue Bulls are also reportedly interested in prising Willemse away from the Stormers.
Semesa Rokoduguni is tackled by former Bath player Matt Garvey during the Blue, Black and White’s comeback victory over Gloucester on Tuesday to go second in the Gallagher Premiership