Sebastian de Klerk relishes training alongside Bok stars in Bulls squad
'Willie is such a smart player ... I'm constantly learning from him."
Sebastian de Klerk of the Bulls in action during a URC match in Cardiff, Wales recently. Picture: Ben Evans/Gallo Images
Young Bulls outside back Sebastian de Klerk cannot sing the praises enough of two-time World Cup winner Willie le Roux, who joined the Pretoria-based team after the Springboks’ win in France at the end of October.
Le Roux previously played for Boland, Griquas, the Cheetahs and Sharks in South Africa and also turned out for Wasps in England and Verblitz in Japan, before returning home and the signing on at the Bulls.
De Klerk, meanwhile, previously played for the Pumas and is now part of a star-studded set-up at Loftus Versfeld and he cannot get enough of training with World Cup winners like Le Roux.
Learning all the time
“It’s wonderful having so many Boks and World Cup winners here … present ones and past ones, they’ve brought energy and confidence to the whole group,” said De Klerk, 23, this week, as the Bulls kicked off preparations for their opening Champions Cup game against English side Saracens at Loftus on Saturday evening.
“With a guy like Willie coming in, with all his experience and the way he looks at the game … I’m learning so much from him. He’s such a smart rugby player. He’s got close to 100 Tests and been in every situation on the field imaginable. I’m constantly getting insights into how things get done at the Boks and in Test rugby … it’s nice.
“He’s also so helpful to share the different types of scenarios one would find oneself in during a match and the thought processes to deal with those things. His communication is so good and clear.
“But it’s more than that, I’m also learning how to conduct myself on and off the field. And it’s not only the players who’re learning from a guy like Willie, but the coaches, too … he helps with a lot of the prep. The reality is you want to be at a union where there are Bok players, guys who’re pushing each other to be better all the time.”
De Klerk said he was also enjoying training alongside two other World Cup winners in Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie, who’re in direct competition with him for a starting place in the team. “They’re top guys and it’s just so enjoyable training with and against these guys.”
The Bulls, who’re third on the URC log after seven matches, having won five, face a completely new challenge against a team like Saracens in a new competition this weekend.
“They’ve got some world class players in their team,” said De Klerk. “Both teams are going to have to work for every point, but what a challenge it’s going to be. It’s these kinds of matches you want as a player, to measure yourself against the best.
“We’re obviously a confident team right now, with the Bulls in a good space. Winning helps, but importantly everyone is working towards the same goal, with the team the first and only priority.”