At 19, the ex-Paul Roos flyhalf will make his first start at Super Rugby level after already debuting off the bench earlier this year against the Kings.
And coach Robbie Fleck has given the youngster the freedom to express his undoubted talent on attack, adding that he “could be quite dangerous”.
With regular pivots Jean-Luc du Plessis and Robert du Preez both out injured, Fleck is excited to see the youngster take his opportunity with both hands.
He explains: “Damian has done quite well in the system over the last 12 months, it’s quite freakish to think that he played schoolboy rugby last year.
“He certainly had a good pre-season for us, and we’ve been grooming him for an opportunity this year and he played well for the SA U20s as well.
“Going into the back-end of the competition, we felt it’s an opportunity for us to look at him in a starting position.
“We’re certainly excited to see how he goes.”
With experienced campaigners such as scrumhalf Jano Vermaak and centres Shaun Treeby and Juan de Jongh next to Willemse, Fleck has given the youngster carte blanche to play his natural game.
The coach explains: “Damian’s been given the green light to play his natural game and I think he could be quite dangerous for us.
“Certainly those guys have a big role to play to free him up.
“For us it’s about him taking the opportunity to take control of the game.