VIDEO: Tapping into the deep well of Willie's wisdom
Sebastian de Klerk, in the early rounds of the United Rugby Championship, revealed why pundits raved so much about him during his Currie Cup outings for the Pumas in the last couple of years.
Having completed his move from Nelspruit to Pretoria during the off-season, De Klerk showed he is not a ‘flash in the pan’.
The 23-year-old said he is ‘enjoying’ the transition from a Currie Cup player – and a winner with the Pumas in 2022 – to playing on the European stage in the URC.
“The game is faster,” he said of his seven URC outings this season – which yielded 338 metres from 48 carries and two tries.
He started in the first six rounds and played off the bench against the Sharks this past weekend, when World Cup winners Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie started on the wings and De Klerk replaced outside centre Stedman Gans late in the second half.
“You get a chance to compare yourself to the best,” he told @rugby365com in an interview ahead of the Champions Cup Round One outing against English giants Saracens at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“It allows you to reflect on the aspects in which you thought you were good enough, but now realise you are not on par yet.”
Sidelined with an injury for eight months before starting with the Bulls, De Klerk said he had to improve his decision-making and also his aerial skills.
“Contestable kicking is a lot more important in European competitions,” said the young flyer, who is also at ease as an outside centre.
The return of a handful of World Cup-winning Springs – Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and most significantly Willie le Roux – is further accelerating his development into a player with the potential to become an international somewhere down the line.
He added that other players with international experience – Embrose Papier and Johan Goosen in the backline – also add real value.
(WATCH as Bulls outside back Sebastian de Klerk talks to @king365ed about the value that World Cup-winning Springboks bring to the Bulls and reveals who is the most valuable...)
However, the most priceless advice has come from 93-times-capped utility back Willie le Roux.
“It is pleasing to hear how they did things in the Springbok camp,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “Listening to their thought processes about different scenarios I enjoy.
“It is great to see how they conduct themselves on and off the field.
“You want to be at a union where there is Springboks and competition for places.”
He said Le Roux’s experience brings with him a treasure trove of knowledge about the game.
“He is a very smart player,” he said, adding: “He gives you so much information.
“The first week that I trained with him, it felt like I had trained with him 100 times – with his great and clear communication.
“With [the experience of] almost 100 Test caps, the situations he has been in so many times that he knows what is going to happen if he does something or I do something.
“He contributes a lot of small things that someone with less experience might miss.
“He has seen all the scenarios and he helps the coaches a lot as well.
“He made our team a lot stronger.”
De Klerk, born in Cape Town in April 2000 and schooled at Hoër Landbouskool in Paarl, made Pumas his Pumas debut in the 2020–21 Currie Cup season and a year later started in the Final when the Nelspruit team made history by winning their first title against Griquas in Kimberley.
He played 21 times for the Nelspruit outfit and made his URC debut for the Bulls in the 63-21 demolition of the Scarlets in Round One on October 22.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) December 5, 2023