Erratic Faf the Boks' soft underbelly
INTERVIEW: Retired All Black Stephen Donald has said that he has ‘no issue’ with the recall of Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk as his selection could favour the All Blacks.
The livewire No.9 was a surprise omission from the Springboks during the Wales series, missing selection in the starting line-up for the decisive third Test.
Jaden Hendrikse of the Sharks was given the opportunity to partner with Handre Pollard in the halves, a suggestion that the Springboks were prepared to abandon their winning 2019 combination.
De Klerk has been named to start again against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship opener in Nelspruit on Saturday, which is music to the ears of the former international flyhalf, Donald, who believes that he is not in the same league as Fourie du Preez when it comes to box kicking accuracy.
“I’ve got no issue if they pick Faf [de Klerk] because he can have rough days,” Donald said on SENZ The Run Home radio show.
“He is not the likes of a Fourie du Preez who could put every single box kick on a 10-cent piece.
“This guy can have erratic kicking nights, and if his box kicks are too long, if they’re too short but particularly if they’re too long, it will give Will Jordan, Jordie Barrett, and Sevu Reece time and space.
“As soon as they get time and space, that’s when we’ll worry the South Africans.”
Donald went on to explain that the Springboks ‘entire’ game is based around the set-piece and the rolling maul but more importantly, it would be the kicking game that would be key.
The 2011 World Cup hero wanted the All Blacks to pressure both of the South African halves, but it was the Springbok scrumhalf who could self-implode out there.
“So you put pressure on Faf de Klerk, you put pressure on Handré Pollard, who isn’t in vintage form at the moment coming back from a serious injury, but Faf’s the one that I reckon we can get to,” he said.
“You get to Faf de Klerk and then suddenly his kicks – too long, too short; that’s where we can make them pay and that’s where you can take them out of their comfort zone.
“As soon as they can’t get to rucks to then bring their line speed, a lot of their game is gone.”
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In his column for RugbyPass, former Springbok scrumhalf Neil de Kock backed the selection of De Klerk and is expecting a signature performance from the scrumhalf who has put Aaron Smith off his game in recent contests.
De Klerk’s defensive pressure has been key to the Boks suffocating opponents and throwing them off their game, including the All Blacks.
“I suspect you are going to see a massive display from him because such is his character and the competitiveness he holds deep within his bones,” de Kock wrote.
“He has had the rub of the green against Aaron Smith of late and that is probably part of the reason the selectors brought him in.
“Faf gets under the skin of the All Blacks owing to his feisty nature, and I expect a big performance from him.”