New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup hero, Stephen Donald believes the Springbok halfbacks are vulnerable, questioning the consistency of Faf de Klerk and the form of Handre Pollard in the build-up to the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship opener in Nelspruit on Saturday.
De Klerk was surprisingly named on the bench for the series decider against Wales in Cape Town last month. Instead, Jaden Hendrikse retained his place in the starting lineup after making just his third Test appearance in Bloemfontein, where Wales were able to claim a historic first win in South Africa.
Going into the Rugby Championship opener at Mbomebela Stadium, the Springboks have reverted to their most experienced halfback partnership, pairing De Klerk with Handre Pollard, the combination that won the 2019 World Cup.
However, De Klerk’s form of late has made his recall music to the ears of former New Zealand flyhalf Donald, who said on New Zealand radio that the 30-year-old lacks consistency and can be targeted by the All Blacks on Saturday.
“I’ve got no issue if they pick Faf [de Klerk] because he can have rough days,” Donald said on the 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.
“You put pressure on Faf de Klerk, you put pressure on Handre 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,” Donald added.
“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 linespeed, a lot of their game is gone.”
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