'He runs the game for South Africa'
SPOTLIGHT: Wales are wary of the threat posed by Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk as the three-Test series in South Africa draws nearer.
De Klerk is one of the chief decision-makers in the Bok team and he is widely considered to be one of the best No.9s in the world.
Wales scrumhalf Kieran Hardy, who is competing with Scarlets teammate Gareth Davies and Cardiff man Tomos Williams for Wales’ No.9 jersey, said is relishing the prospect of potentially going head-to-head with De Klerk.
“He runs the game for South Africa and we’ll have to be aware of him and his kicking game,” Hardy told the Welsh Rugby Union website.
“The way he dictates the game is a different challenge but I think Faf de Klerk is one of the best nines in the world and it would be great to play against him. It is a really big opportunity.
“The quality of nines [in Wales’ squad] is high but if you spoke to any one of us, we’d all back ourselves to play.
“It’s difficult in that regard but obviously with the World Cup coming around, someone needs to nail down the shirt.
“I’m doing everything in my ability to take that shirt and make sure I can carry it through until then.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in the meantime but hopefully a couple of good performances in South Africa, if I get the opportunity, wouldn’t do me any harm.”
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There are not a lot of fans or pundits giving Wales a chance against the Boks, but Hardy says there is a wave of positivity in the Welsh squad.
“It’s a great challenge for us, playing against the best team in the world,” he said. “Those are the challenges you want to be a part of.
“We’ve prepared really well in the last couple of weeks. We had a little game in house last week, 15 on 15, which was really good for us.
“We’re going there with the mindset that we can win every game. That will always be our aim.
“The experience we have in the squad, the players who have played in big Test matches previously… it’s great to lean on them. You learn once you’ve been in the environment as well and we’re going to need all that experience.
“We’re going to need the younger boys to really step up out there. We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a very difficult task, particularly with the altitude and being away from home.
“But we’re ready for everything. We’ve had a good couple of weeks of preparation and we’re going out there to try and win a Test series.”