FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - South Africa A v British and Irish Lions - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa - July 14, 2021 South Africa A's Faf de Klerk in action REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo
September 10, 2021
(Reuters) – The return of Faf de Klerk as the conductor to South Africa’s orchestra is a massive boost to the Springboks ahead of their Rugby Championship clash with Australia in the Gold Coast on Sunday.
The nuggety scrumhalf missed the team’s last three tests through injury but is back in the line-up for this weekend.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard tends to be the leader of the backline, but it is De Klerk who sets the tempo at which the team plays.
“What I’d like to bring to the field is the game management side of things, so deciding when to have a go and when to take them on in the air, as well as when to speed up the game. So that is the control I need to bring,” De Klerk told reporters.
“I also want to bring my basics such as feeding (the ball) and passing, giving the team great front-foot ball, and ensuring that we go forward. If I can score a try, that’s always nice.”
He is perhaps not as dynamic with ball in hand as the other scrumhalves in the squad, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach and Jaden Hendrikse, but his rugby intelligence and ability to master the Boks’ forward-based game-plan sets him apart.
He knows too of the threat posed by his opposite number on Sunday.
“(Tate) McDermott is an exciting young player, who is really threatening around the rucks and is a good player to watch,” De Klerk said.
“That’s the kind of guy Australia wants now, someone who poses a threat. Nic White backing him up also presents a massive challenge for us on defence.”
De Klerk believes the Boks will be in for a battle against a Wallabies side that has lost three tests in a row to New Zealand.
“Having watched their games and how close they have come to winning some of them, I think if a few things had gone their way and a few passes stuck there could have been different results,” he said.
“From my personal experience of playing in Australia, it is incredibly tough and it’s always a massive physical challenge.
“Adding to that, the way they play these days where they almost try to run you off your feet is going to test us defensively. So it will be a tough game.”
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)