Lions scrumhalf Faf de Klerk is relishing the opportunity to test himself against Hurricanes’ ace scrumhalf TJ Perenara in Saturday’s much-anticipated Super Rugby final in Wellington, New Zealand.
Perenara has been brilliant for the Hurricanes but was also lucky to escape sanction last week when he was involved in a scuffle with the Chiefs’ Sam Kane in the semifinals.
“Perenara is a great leader for them, great player and he has been playing very well the entire year and also for the All Blacks, so it’s going to be a great contest,” said De Klerk.
“But we are not focusing too much on them but more on our processes. It’s always fun for me to test myself against the best,” he said.
De Klerk believed the Lions’ forwards will have to stand up and be counted.
“The biggest challenge is going to be our rucking and how the forwards will be able to provide us with good go-forward ball, then we can definitely counter their line speed on defence,” he said.
“A good start is in the back of everyone’s mind. I think our goal has always been to start well, as you can put that doubt in their minds.
“I think if you can score two quick tries, that doubt will quickly settle into their minds, but they are such a quality side they can come back every time, regardless by how much they are behind.
“And the Highlanders also showed last weekend how quickly they can score tries, so a good start will be crucial and staying ahead the whole time will be vital because they could score from anywhere.”
De Klerk believed the biggest challenge playing Kiwi sides are their sound tactical kicking.
“Our tactical kicking was a lot better last week, and we did focus on that, we set our personal standards very high, to kick better, especially in last week’s game, and it’s going to be even more important this week without the help of altitude.
“Elton (Jantjies) also played a great game, so our kicking was on par, but there’s always a few areas where we can still improve on.
“We definitely expect wet conditions, we’ll have to kick tactically well from 9, 10 and 15 but we also know what a good counterattack they have, so we don’t want to just hand possession away, so we’ll have to read to game well and vary our options.”
De Klerk said they will still approach the match with an attacking mindset but also knows what’s at stake.
“Making the correct decision on the right areas of the field will be important, so we have spoken to the coaches how we must handle it, so we definitely are planning a few things for them.
“Ever since I have been with the Lions we have been rated as underdogs, I don’t think it has much of an effect on us, I think it’s a nice tag to have and always great to prove people wrong and I think it counts in our favour.”