Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Faf ahead of Boks-All Blacks Test: ‘We know what it feels like to lose two in a row’

The All Blacks on a very poor run of form, having lost four of their last five games and lost a home series against Ireland.

Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk is back in the starting line-up and champing at the bit to get stuck into the All Blacks in the opening game of the Rugby Championship at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

De Klerk was replaced in the starting side by Jaden Hendrikse for the third Test decider against Wales in mid-July, but has now switched places for the All Blacks clash with Hendrikse to play off the bench.

ALSO READ: Special milestone for Malcolm Marx

“I am feeling good and positive and I’m privileged to be back in the starting line-up. The season has been going for a while since it started in February for me (after recovering from injury) and I think I have been growing ever since,” said de Klerk.

“Being back with the squad now this past week, we really grew as a group and got tighter and more connected. Obviously there are a few new players that you have to get the hang of. But I am just happy to be back here in Nelspruit and I am really looking forward to this weekend.”

This video is no longer available.

Poor form

The All Blacks on a very poor run of form, having lost four of their last five games and lost a home series against Ireland for the first time, which will make them a dangerous opponent for the Boks, but one they are fully prepared for.

“The motivation for us is even bigger. We have been in similar situations in the past and we know how it feels to lose two games on the bounce. I think that’s when a great team stands up and wants to play,” explained de Klerk.

“So we are going to focus on ourselves and make sure we are ready to go on the weekend. We have put in the work and will continue to do that over the next few days.

“But playing for South Africa against New Zealand, there is nothing more that you need when you run onto that field. So whatever situation it may be, you know that it’s probably going to be your biggest game of the year and you have to pitch up.”

Looking ahead to the Rugby Championship as a whole, de Klerk admits that their goal is to win every game, but that they have to take it one game at a time if they are to be successful.

“I don’t think we ever want to lose, so going unbeaten is the goal. We don’t want to let our country or teammates down, so we have to take it week by week,” said de Klerk.

“We are not saying from the start that we are going to win two games on the bounce. We want to get through this one first and then focus on fixes and improvements or whatever it may be from the game.”

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits