Faf's shot at redemption

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 16:09
Large francois de klerk boks 2016 800

REACTION: Scrumhalf Francois de Klerk will have another opportunity to prove himself on the international stage when the Springboks take on the All Blacks in Durban on Saturday.

The 24-year-old has produced some indifferent performances for the Boks this year under head coach Allister Coetzee and he was subsequently dropped ahead of the game against the Wallabies last weekend, which the Boks won 18-10.

However, De Klerk was thrown a lifeline when Rudy Paige, who started against the Wallabies, was ruled out with concussion earlier this week.

De Klerk's last appearance for the Boks came in the 13-41 defeat against the All Blacks in Christchurch last month. He received a lot of criticism for his performance in that match, particularly his lapses on defence.

"I want to give Faf another opportunity," Coetzee told reporters in Durban. "Of course in my mind, he is a great rugby player and obviously he would have learnt from the lessons in the past. He will be a better player come this weekend."

Coetzee added: "Defensively [in Christchurch], it was not just Faf de Klerk's problem - it starts at the set-piece. They [All Blacks] got a good scrum with the left shoulder up and we cannot afford to allow that. It is crucial for the flank to assist Faf with that [defence off set pieces]. 

"He might be a different scrumhalf to Rudy Paige, but the basics of the game stays the same. He's got to have an accurate service. He's got to clear the ball and get it away as quickly as possible and make sure Morne [Steyn] gets enough time and space without having their hard-pressed defence putting us under pressure."

Damian de Allende is another familiar face in the starting XV and Coetzee believes the big centre will help them get over the advantage line.

De Allende will start in the No.12 jersey with his Stormers teammate Juan de Jongh moving to outside centre.

"You saw what he [De Allende] did last year. He was rated by you guys [media] as the world's best No.12. It is simple, he dominated the gain line. 

"It is going to be the battle of the gain line - that is what teams want to do. At 12 they can do that and I think he is a 12, especially if you have a little bit of rain and footwork might not be crucial. Then nice straight and hard running into the defence is needed and Damian is the man," said Coetzee.

Coetzee also believes that De Jongh plays an integral role in the team's defensive play.

"Juan de Jongh has been the livewire when it comes to our defensive organisation. You might not notice it, but his communication has really given us confidence," Coetzee added.

By Warren Fortune, in Durban
@FortuneWarren
@rugby365com

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