Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Faf de Klerk set for valuable game time at flyhalf against Romania

Having a versatile squad, according to Bok coach Jacques Nienaber, made the selection for the game easy.

Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk is set to get some valuable game time at flyhalf when the Boks take on Romania in their World Cup pool B clash in Bordeaux on Sunday afternoon.

The Boks named a completely changed team from the one that opened their World Cup defence with a solid win over Scotland at the weekend, with one of the key focus points being at flyhalf.

ALSO READ: Fourie at hooker, Williams at wing for Boks against Romania?

Damian Willemse, who started at fullback against Scotland, is the only survivor in the starting XV, but he has moved into the pivot berth, being in need of game time in the position as he is the official back-up to first choice Manie Libbok.

De Klerk is then third in line in the current Bok squad and he is set to get a run off the bench during the second half in case the Boks have an emergency later in the competition.

Willemse and De Klerk are also likely to be the goal kickers on the day which will give both some good practice off the kicking tee.

Versatile squad

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber said he had a very versatile squad to call on which made the selection for the game easy.

“Faf is also one of our back-up flyhalves in the squad, and the same applies to him, as it will be valuable for him and the team to get some game time in the position,” explained Nienaber.

“We have been rotating and testing players in different positions since last season to put us in the fortunate position to have a group of 33 players in France that are closely matched in terms of their quality of play and skills.

“They have been pushing one another for places in the last few months and it has allowed us to select a top-quality team for this match.”

Other players who are set to get a run in positions they don’t usually play in include scrumhalf Grant Williams, who has been named at right wing, outside back Canan Moodie, who will play at outside centre, and utility forward Deon Fourie is the hooker replacement on the bench.

Experienced side

Despite the positional switches there is also a lot of experience in the side with World Cup winners including captain Bongi Mbonambi, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Vincent Koch, Cobus Reinach, Willemse and Willie le Roux all starting.

“This squad includes several Rugby World Cup winners and some of the best young talent in the country and we are excited to see what they can do,” said Nienaber.

“Player management is vital as every game in the World Cup is essentially a play-off game, and it is important that our squad remains sharp and match fit throughout the competition.”

Although Romania were given an 82-8 hiding by a strong Ireland team in their opening game, Nienaber insisted his side could not be complacent and they had to be at their best to continue building momentum into the competition.

“Romania are a patriotic team and they will be playing for their country. It is a massive opportunity for them to play against us because such occasions are very rare, so they will give everything,” said Nienaber.

“They scored the first try in their opening match against Ireland, they showed real skill in a number of areas of their game, and they fought throughout the match, so we know what we are in for.

“Obviously from our perspective it is important to build momentum in our campaign and this match plays a vital role in our plans for the tournament, so it is important that we follow through with our plan in this match.”

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