Damian Willemse deserves a shot at Springboks' No 10 jersey

The multi-talented Damian Willemse is being talked up as a potentially world-class flyhalf Carl Fourie/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Cheslin Kolbe's inclusion in the Springboks' squad for their Australasian leg of the Rugby Championship may be an indication that Rassie Erasmus' idea of grooming Damian Willemse to become a backup fullback could be shelved. And, it might just end up being the best thing to happen in South African rugby in a long time.

At the start of the Rugby Championship, Erasmus said that Willemse was going to be Willie le Roux's backup as far as the No 15 jersey is concerned. However, in the home and away encounters against Argentina, Willemse has come onto the field in the No 10 jersey, with the starting flyhalf Handré Pollard moving to inside centre.

If Erasmus was going to give Willemse minutes at fullback it was going to be against Argentina. Erasmus mentioned the game was too tight to take Le Roux off in Durban, and, in Mendoza, they were chasing the game. So, it's hard to see Willemse actually getting some time in that position against arguably tougher opposition in the Wallabies and the All Blacks, who also have a superior kicking game to the Pumas.

Erasmus is essentially looking for versatility on the bench and players who can make an impact at next year's World Cup in Japan. Certainly, Willemse has all the traits to be that player, as he had played fullback in the past, most notably in last year's Currie Cup final for Western Province.

New Zealand have been successful in introducing young players at fullback first before letting them take the reins at flyhalf. The magnificent Beauden Barrett is a great example of this, while the exciting Damian McKenzie is following the same path to get minutes under the belt in the Test arena.

But New Zealand have also had many quality flyhalves over the last decade, and usurping No 10 jersey from the likes of a Dan Carter or a Barrett is a lot more difficult than in any other position. It's also why the No 15 jersey is seen as the easiest avenue for young players to get into the team.

The Springboks, though, haven't yet found a No 10 who has really dominated the opposition and dictated the play since Morné Steyn helped the team to three successive victories over the All Blacks in 2009 and a Tri-Nations crown.

Elton Jantjies and Handré Pollard have both had their moments in the sun in the green and gold over the last few years, but haven't performed consistently enough to confidently proclaim that either one of them can win the Boks the World Cup.

Willemse is a rare talent, I dare say in the mould of a Barrett when the All Blacks' magician was the same age as the Stormers flyhalf. The kid has got a fantastic temperament for 20-year-old, and is a player who could be just as good as the New Zealand flyhalf in four or five years' time. He has the speed, the quick feet, the boot, the soft hands and the physicality to become a top, top international flyhalf.

So, with Kolbe in the Bok mix, why not let Willemse concentrate on playing flyhalf and possibly let him start in at least one of the matches against the Wallabies and the All Blacks in the position which he prefers?

Erasmus said after the defeat by Argentina in Mendoza that there won't be any room for experimenting against the Wallabies and the All Blacks, but there is no better time than the present to see if Willemse can cut it from the start in the No 10 jersey.

South African rugby finds itself at a crossroads, and it's time to take the road less travelled. There is absolutely nothing to lose at this point. It's time to be bold. If Erasmus thought Willemse will become a top player at fullback, he would have played him there in at least one of the matches against Argentina, no matter the situation, while he wouldn't have brought Kolbe into the squad.

The time has come for Willemse to have a crack at the Bok No 10 jersey. Not only does he deserve it, but he could be the flyhalf who finally takes charge of the team.