Tuesday 27 September 2016

Pocket rocket De Klerk stands tall

Published 10/06/2016 | 02:30

Faf de Klerk is the one debutant in the South African starting XV for tomorrow’s opening Test against Ireland. Picture Credit: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Faf de Klerk is the one debutant in the South African starting XV for tomorrow’s opening Test against Ireland. Picture Credit: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

In the land of the giants, new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has turned to a pint-size scrum-half for inspiration.

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Faf de Klerk is the one debutant in the former Stormers supremo's starting XV for tomorrow's opening Test against Ireland, and the Lions star certainly brings something new to the table.

Standing at 5ft 7ins and weighing in at 10st 6lbs, the Nelspruit native will stand out from the crowd during the anthems at Newlands.

But once he crosses the white lines, the diminutive No 9 has the capacity to cause Ireland all sorts of problems.

The 24-year-old has been a key player for the Lions, who have been the South African front-runners in Super Rugby this season, bringing a sharp pass and an eye for the break to his team.

And, while Coetzee recognises that tomorrow is a step up, he wants his new man to play to his strengths.

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"Faf is a bundle of energy and I have to rein him in a bit," he said after naming his team yesterday.

"He's explosive and Duane Vermeulen will help take care of him there and he has the experience of Pat Lambie outside him.

"You look at your No 9, and he needs to do the basics well. He must have good service and an educated kicking boot, which Faf has.

"His core skills are also very good. You need your No 9 to get to the breakdown quickly and get the ball away, and he's one of the players who can do that.

"Faf is not just a link, he keeps the opposition honest around the rucks and mauls, and he must play his way.

"He has a great feel for the game, but his basics, like getting the ball into the No 10's hands quickly, need to be good as well."

Irish Independent

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