World Cup-winning Springbok star Faf de Klerk believes the strength in depth that has developed at scrumhalf is a great sign for healthy competition going forward, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
In an exclusive interview with SA Rugby magazine, De Klerk reflected on the Boks’ triumphant campaign at the World Cup last year, while also casting an eye to the future and the prospect of the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa.
While De Klerk played a crucial role for the Boks in Japan, young understudy Herschel Jantjies barely put a foot wrong, while highly-regarded Cobus Reinach provided further backup.
Meanwhile, at the start of the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season, former Junior Springbok star Sanele Nohamba caught the eye at the Sharks, while Embrose Papier also looked to be rediscovering some encouraging form.
Suddenly, there appears to be an embarrassment of riches at scrumhalf – a position that was once seen as problematic for the Springboks following the retirement of the legendary Fourie du Preez.
De Klerk said the prospects were certainly encouraging, and acknowledged it would also keep pushing him to perform if he hoped to retain his place as the Boks’ incumbent No 9.
‘I’ve always thought we had good depth at scrumhalf, even though there were stages when people were saying there was no one really taking it forward. But I always thought there were options, and it’s now especially good to see young guys coming through. Look at a guy like Herschel; you can just see the confidence he’s been playing with, and I had a great time with him personally, too, at the World Cup.
‘It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the guys, and you can’t just expect because you were in the World Cup final, that you will hold that place. There’s a new energy around the jersey and so much competition. I saw that in every Super Rugby game, that guys have a new lease of life and clearly really to want to play for the Springboks.
‘There is pressure on and you have to perform and, if not, there will be someone waiting in your shadows ready to fill your space who could do just as well. That creates a good environment and I know that brings out the best in me knowing there is that competition and someone pushing me.’
*The full interview with De Klerk will feature in an upcoming issue of SA Rugby magazine.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets