Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the return of Faf de Klerk is a huge boost for the Springboks.
De Klerk, who plays for the Sale Sharks in England, was unavailable for last Saturday’s tour opener at Twickenham as it fell outside of World Rugby’s international window.
In fact, the 27-year-old was initially expected to miss the entire tour, as part of an agreement with his club, but after the 12-11 loss to England, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus opted to call him up for Saturday’s match against France in Paris.
De Klerk is expected to regain the No 9 jersey from Ivan van Zyl, with Embrose Papier keeping his place on the bench.
‘He is a world-class player,’ said Stick on Tuesday when asked about De Klerk. ‘His experience and what he brings to the team is vital. He knows European conditions and I think he will add a lot of value to the team if he gets an opportunity to play this weekend.’
Stick said the Boks were focused on getting better and taking their scoring chances against France.
‘We created opportunities against England and as coaches we can be positive about that. The disappointing thing is that we didn’t convert them into points. We did that in the games against the All Blacks earlier this year.
‘I don’t think we are going to change much in our plan, though. If you can create 20 scoring opportunities against England at Twickenham, you are doing something right.
‘It’s always going to be difficult playing France in Paris,’ he added. ‘They’ve got physical players in the pack and midfield and it’s going to be tough.’
Stick said he was pleased with the work the back three – wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi and fullback Damian Willemse – did under the high ball at Twickenham.
‘We knew there was going to be a challenge in the north with the kicking game and the conditions. It’s a big work-on in our game. I think they’ve come a long way in terms of their work in the air. We are catching up.’
While Stick sidestepped a question about the video from Bok training of Rassie Erasmus showing André Esterhuizen how to tackle like Owen Farrell, he did talk about what the Bok coach has brought to the setup.
‘Rassie has been there as a player, he has walked the walk, so he knows exactly how to get the best out of the players. He has created an environment in which the players can be at their best. He has empowered the players to take responsibility. You can see that someone like Handré Pollard is taking charge as a leader on the field.’
Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images