Springboks’ Faf de Klerk highlights the biggest change to All Blacks’ kicking strategy

Faf de Klerk says the Boks need to be their best to overcome the All Blacks. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Faf de Klerk says the Boks need to be their best to overcome the All Blacks. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Jul 13, 2023


The Springboks that travelled to New Zealand ahead of the Rugby Championship opening match will have to pull up their socks to maintain the level set against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld last week.

And, warned South African scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, if they are not switched on from the first whistle, the All Blacks can cause mayhem in the second match at Mount Smart Stadium (kickoff 9:05 AM) in Auckland on Saturday.

The arch-rivals will square up for the top spot on the Championship log in their first meeting ahead of the World Cup in France. They will also play each other at Twickenham in London later this year.

According to De Klerk, it's going to be imperative to follow up the victory over Australia with another good performance.

"The way the boys played last week shows there is something about us," De Klerk said.

"We don't see that (the Aussie win) as a challenge (that we have to emulate). The boys spotted opportunities and they took that. Their skill levels allowed them to do that. We will have to read the game, and the situation and if we see space, we need to take it. Whether it is quick ball or for a kick.

"We will have to make the adjustments on the field no matter the conditions. We have to make sure we uphold the standard (set against the Wallabies) or outperform (it). It is a squad effort.

"A few years ago (in New Zealand) we were not up to standard in the way we played at all. Getting a lot of points put up against you, it's not going to warrant respect. But I think we do have respect here.

“There’s always been great respect between New Zealand and South Africa, and I think it will continue."

De Klerk was part of the group who travelled to Auckland early to adapt, and he says the Boks are fortunate with enough depth to do something like this.

But the All Blacks will pose a totally different threat than the Wallabies, and the diminutive scrumhalf knows they'll have to be sharp all over the park to stop the home side.

New Zealand brought back their mercurial flyhalf Richie Mo'unga and the workhorse lock Brodie Retallick to strengthen them for the Springbok onslaught.

"The biggest challenge for us will be how they (the All Blacks) can create something from nothing. You think you are in control of situations and they score a try from their 5-meter line. It's in that moment where you just switch off and they take that opportunity, and suddenly you find yourself 20 points behind.

"Our big thing will be to not switch off and stay alert the whole game, even when we think we are in control. We need to be ready for anything they throw our way."

De Klerk feels the match will be a good test for South Africa and New Zealand to see where both teams are in the build-up to France 2023. He is especially looking forward to reigniting his rivalry with Aaron Smith who will start behind the All Blacks' forwards.

"It's a bit strange that we are not playing them in Super Rugby anymore. We don't really know where the measure is. It's going to be interesting to see if we are up to standard, and if they are up to standard.

"They are a world-class team every single year, so if you can be there about or outperform (them), you know you are at a good place.

"It seems like they like keeping the ball in hand, and they are not kicking as much off nine (scrumhalf) but off ten (flyhalf). That is a bit of a change there."