Cape Town - Springbok loose forward Francois Louw has praised scrumhalf Faf de Klerk ahead of Sunday's World Cup semi-final against Wales.
De Klerk was named man-of-the-match in this past weekend's 26-3 quarter-final win over Japan based largely on his rock-solid defence around the fringes for the Boks.
The Springbok defence has been one of their most noticeable strengths at this World Cup so far, and on Sunday it was the 28-year-old scrumhalf who earned most of the plaudits.
Louw, who played off the bench against Japan and is likely to do the same against Wales, said on Wednesday that De Klerk was implementing the current Bok defensive structure perfectly.
"It’s a massive lift in terms of physical pressure that a player puts on the opposition," he said of the Bok defence currently.
"There is no doubt a big hit from any player gets guys excited. Firstly, it creates defensive momentum and forces the attack to take a few steps back to realign their process.
"And a guy like Faf is really good at it. He picks his moments – he sort of drifts behind the line and then rabbits out to make big spot tackles, usually on the big forwards, which I’ve got to say is quite impressive from a little guy.
"He’s got a big heart, and he’s solid defensively. He’s a great guy to have in your side."
Turning his attention to Wales, Louw said the Boks would not make the mistake of taking their opposition lightly.
"I think it is an understatement to say they are an outside team trying to win the World Cup. Bookmakers are there to make money," he said.
"From a rugby perspective, they’ve been playing consistently well for the last few years, and even floated as the No 1 in the world for a few days or hours.
"At no stage would anyone underestimate them. You do that at your peril. They are a fantastic outfit, a very well organised and structured side which wholeheartedly rely on their systems to perform."
The Boks will name their side for Sunday's match on Thursday.