Africa-Press – South-Africa. In Mbombela
Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk is licking his lips at the prospect of clashing with New Zealand’s crack halfback Aaron Smith.
Smith may have been supplanted as the world’s best scrumhalf by France’s rising tyro Antoine Dupont, but he remains one of the most dangerous customers in his position in World Rugby.
De Klerk, who by starting Saturday’s first Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand in his hometown of Mbombela, will get another shot at Smith.
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De Klerk acknowledged Smith’s excellence and the role he’ll play in any good the All Blacks will do when they meet on Saturday.
“We’ve become friends off the field, but once we’re on the field, it’s back to business,” De Klerk said.
“He’s one of their key players and he’s vastly experienced. That makes him unbelievably successful in what he wants to do.
“There’s a lot to learn from him; it’s always good to learn from one of the best players in the world.”
Ireland’s physical dominance in defence and on the gain-line in their 2-1 series win hampered Smith’s output.
The Boks may have taken note of this, but De Klerk said they’ve devised their own ways to counter the rugby kung-fu the All Blacks may have planned.
“The important thing is that we need to man up physically against them and I don’t think we have guys who’ll shy away from the physicality.
“We’ll work on it with our own plans and we’re not going to try to do something that’s not in our embedded DNA,” said De Klerk.
‘We can do the job’
The rise of Jaden Hendrikse relegated De Klerk to the bench for the third Test against Wales, but the competition is something that De Klerk is relishing.
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“There’s always been pressure from the other scrumhalves. There are five guys in the camp now and any of them can be picked on the day,” De Klerk said.
“I don’t think we have similar playing styles and games, but we can do the job that’s needed. If you slip once, you may get another chance, but if you slip again, you are gone because the next guy is ready.
“We’ve got the same thing in other positions, so it doesn’t matter if you’re experienced, you must pitch up.”