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De Klerk welcomes Bok scrumhalf battle

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Rugby Championship opener in Nelspruit could serve as a perfect opportunity for Faf De Klerk to retain his title as No.1 scrumhalf in South Africa.


De Klerk returns to the starting line-up for the Springboks’ opening Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks on Saturday.

The World Cup winner did not start in the series-deciding win against Wales in Cape Town after a below-par performance in the opening clash at Loftus Versfeld.

Consequently, head coach Jacques Nienaber and selectors opted for Jaden Hendrikse, who produced a noteworthy performance during the 2-1 series win over Wales.

However, with 36 Test caps behind his name, De Klerk is the preferred choice for the Test against the All Blacks.

Hendrikse is on the bench as a replacement.

“I am privileged to be back in the starting line-up.” De Klerk told reporters following the team announcement.


“The season has been in progression for a while and I think I have been growing ever since and being with the squad during this off week we really grew as a group and are connected.

“There are a couple of new players around but I’m very happy to be back here and happy to be in Nelspruit.”

De Klerk explained that he enjoyed the pressure of having to compete for the No.9 jersey with four other scrumhalves (Hendrikse, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach and Grant Williams) all vying for the spot.

“There has always been pressure in terms of the scrumhalf position,” De Klerk said.


“We are currently five scrumhalves in the camp and the coach [Nienaber] can literally pick anyone on the day to start.

“I don’t think we play a similar game but everyone will execute the job that’s needed.

“So there is always that pressure – I think if you slip up you maybe will get another chance and if you do it again you are gone because the next guy is ready to go.

“And I think it is a good thing. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced guy or a youngster, you need to perform on the field

“I quite enjoy the big game and pressure, I think that is where most of our guys perform.”

Meanwhile, Springboks head coach Nienaber revealed that Reinach could return to action against Austalia.

“Reinach just returned to training but he is not part of squad training yet,” Nienaber explained.

“He is slowly getting reintroduced to rugby but no contact yet.

“Should all go as planned he will probably be up for selection against Australia.”


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