Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

De Klerk relishing battle against ‘world’s best’ … but France more than Dupont

It is set to be an interesting quarterfinal match-up between the teams ranked second and third on the World Rugby rankings.

Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk is relishing the opportunity to take on the ‘world’s best’ with France captain Antoine Dupont looking increasingly likely to return for the massive Rugby World Cup quarterfinal clash between the sides in Saint-Denis on Sunday night.

Dupont fractured his cheekbone during his team’s huge 96-0 pool win against Namibia last month, with the initial fears being that the 2021 World Rugby player of the year would miss the rest of the World Cup.

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But successful surgery and clearance from the surgeon to return to training this week has put the maverick scrumhalf into selection contention, which will provide a big boost to his side.

Despite his impending return, De Klerk claimed that it didn’t change any preparations in the Bok setup, while he admitted he was looking forward to fronting up against him as he did in Marseille late last year.

“He’s a great player and he gives the team a lot of confidence. But it doesn’t affect us if he plays or doesn’t. We prepare to face the team, not individuals. That said, for me personally, it’s always good to face the world’s best,” said De Klerk.

Interesting match-up

It is set to be an interesting quarterfinal match-up between the teams ranked second and third on the World Rugby rankings and the Boks will have a number of tricky selection decisions to make which could change the way they play.

After an impressive 50 minute showing against Tonga flyhalf Handre Pollard is firmly in the mix and fighting for a starting berth against the inform Manie Libbok, who’s patchy kicking game could count against him.

The Boks will also have to decide whether to stick with the solid Jesse Kriel at outside centre or bring maverick Lukhanyo Am straight back into the side

All of these selection decisions could impact how the Boks approach the game, but De Klerk believes that whatever they decide to do they will be able to change and adapt to the different game plans during the match.

“As a team we can go back to our traditional way of doing things if need be, but we have also added additional plays to our game which we can bank on,” explained De Klerk.

“So, it will go down to what is needed on the day. As a team we are in a lucky position in that regard.”

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