Faf on being a flyhalf
Seasoned scrumhalf Francois de Klerk has allayed fears that South African coach Jacques Nienaber is taking an unnecessary risk by not flying in a specialist flyhalf.
The departure of veteran Elton Jantjies, in the wake of his alleged extra-marital affair with the team dietician, and an injured that ruled Handre Pollard out for the remainder of the year have left the Boks thin in the No.10 channel.
Utility backs Damian Willemse and Francois Steyn are the designated players, with Willemse starting at flyhalf.
Willie le Roux, Francois de Klerk and Andre Esterhuizen are other who can help out.
De Klerk, 30 and capped 40 times since his debut in 2016, said he is happy to shift focus from scrumhalf to flyhalf if need be.
It is not a position that is unfamiliar to him either.
“At school, I played quite a lot at flyhalf,” the nippy No.9 said in the build-up to South Africa’s crucial Rugby Championship showdown with Argentina in Buenos Aires.
“At Under-19 [age-group level], I played a bit there as well.
“At the Lions [Super Rugby] and at Sale Sharks [Premiership and Europe] I had a couple of games there.
“So, I am really comfortable playing at flyhalf,” De Klerk added.
He admitted Test rugby is up another level.
However, he is confident he will be able to make the step up.
“If the team needs me there, then that’s where I will play. I have no issues with that.
“I will have to train a bit more [at flyhalf], but if push comes to shove and they require me [to play at No.10] then I will take that opportunity.”
De Klerk has also had to make another big adjustment in recent times – from the starting scrumhalf to a Bomb Squad bench role.
However, he has already made the mental switch and he is happy with his new environment.
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“We know what our role is when we come from the bench,” he said of the famous Bomb Squad members.
“There is a lot said to us [before we go onto the field]
“In my position this weekend, I will need to either speed up the game, or try to get a bit more of a controlling aspect.”
He said he will assess the situation when his number is called to make an impact.
“It depends where we are on the scoreboard and whether we are chasing or trying to build on a lead. That will determine how I will play.
“That’s going to be really important this weekend, to make sure I read the game situation and go from there.
“We have a role – whether you are starting or [playing] of the bench, you aren’t just an injury replacement anymore.
“We are just as focused coming off the bench as when we are starting.
“There is a lot of responsibility on the guys who finish the game and that’s going to be massive this weekend against a team like Argentina playing at home.”