Faf: English rugby prepared me for Tests

2018-06-06 08:50
Faf de Klerk (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk says that playing in the English Premiership is similar to playing Test match rugby.

The 26-year-old will make his long-awaited return to the national side this weekend when he wears the No 9 jersey against England in Johannesburg. 

READ: Faf explains why he's a better Bok bet now

De Klerk was the first-choice Bok scrumhalf throughout Allister Coetzee's first season in charge of the side in 2016, but he was dumped the following year and then left the Lions for the Sale Sharks in England. 

Since then, he has won over English fans and was named Sale's Player of the Year for the 2017/18 season as the club finished 8th in the Aviva Premiership.

It has brought him back into the Springbok mix, and he starts the Rassie Erasmus era as South Africa's first-choice scrumhalf. 

Speaking in Johannesburg on Tuesday, De Klerk opened up on his stint in England and he said that English rugby felt more like Test match rugby than Super Rugby does. 

"I had a chat with Willie (Le Roux, Wasps) after we played them and for me it felt a lot more similar to Test rugby than Super Rugby did," De Klerk explained.

"I know people say that Super Rugby is really fast and if you don't play Super Rugby you can't play international rugby, but there is a lot more emphasis on getting out of your half in England in certain weather conditions.

"There is a lot more structure to that and I also think it prepares you a bit better in terms of playing northern hemisphere sides.

"Luckily now I've had experience in both leagues now ... it prepares you all over. You're used to the running aspect (from Super Rugby) and then when you're under pressure to get out of your own half."

De Klerk notched up 11 Test caps in that 2016 season, but one of his biggest criticisms was his tactical kicking.  

"My time at the Lions and the Springboks was great, irrespective of the losses we had. I think I learnt a lot through the losses and the few wins we had. I think it's important to always try and find the positives. I was never angry about it."

"There was a lot of criticism about it, but I always felt I was a good kicker of the ball," De Klerk said.

"I think we just never applied it where we played, so I didn't kick a lot at the Lions and then came into the Boks and there was a bit more kicking to do. If I applied it more at the Lions, I probably would have been better.

"I think going overseas definitely improved that a lot. I had most of the kicking on me ... all of our exits were off 9. That was good for me and my game."

De Klerk is expected to partner Handre Pollard in South Africa's halfback pairing on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 17:05.

Read more on:    springboks  |  faf de klerk  |  johannesburg  |  rugby

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