Faf de Klerk on the Boks' secret weapon: 'We're all great mates'

Faf de Klerk on the Boks' secret weapon: 'We're all great mates'

Faf de Klerk shone a rare spotlight on the Springboks' internal culture on Thursday, as he revealed having great people in the team is just as important as having great players.

De Klerk was asked about the spirit in the Bok camp and how it compares to their victorious World Cup run back in 2019, and he made it clear it was no accident that it continued to be so positive.

"We have lost a few boys along the way but we've also gained a lot of players, experienced players and some magic," De Klerk told reporters.

"The majority of the group has stayed the same, which is great for cohesion but the guys that have come in have played amazing rugby and adjusted to the culture so well and been an asset to the team.

"They aren't just great rugby players but great people. That's something that we really try and focus on.

"In a World Cup, it's important we are all great mates and there are no issues inside the team. If we keep it like it is, then we are as tight as 2019."

Springbok fans have grown accustomed to a positive and uplifting aura emanating from this current crop of Springboks and their coaches, but clearly it has not come about by accident.

Looking ahead to Saturday's massive clash against Ireland in front of a sold-out 80 000-capacity Stade de France, De Klerk admitted the game has been on the players' radar for a long time.

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"There's a lot at stake," he said.

"We've always known this game was going to be there. It's a World Cup match and we all know what's at stake.

"As a group we are very well prepared and very eager to get going and get it over with."

Ireland have been incredibly tough to beat in recent years and have made winning a regular habit. De Klerk said the Boks know it is their job to disrupt Andy Farrell's plans and prevent things from going as smoothly as they usually do.

"Obviously you get confidence from winning, you learn how to win and they've done that," he added. "If you learn how to win it just comes easier.

"Their biggest strength is their accuracy surrounding their whole game.

"They've got a very balanced game and a very high skill set. They create quick ball through dominant carries and great ruck reaction. And they have a good set-piece.

"The guys that are playing are very experienced. They've been there, done that and the group is predominantly the same. They know each other really well.

"We just need to try and break all those connections up."

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An added wrinkle for De Klerk this weekend is that, should anything happen to starting flyhalf Manie Libbok, he would need to take over in the position.

It's not a challenge he's about to shy away from, however.

"I don't think it will happen but if it needs to, I am very comfortable stepping up," he said.

"I played there before in my career and at schoolboy level. This is obviously a lot bigger but I've been training there since we got together as a group. I've trained there a lot."

De Klerk also briefly took over the kicking duties from Libbok against Scotland but he explained it was just a spur-of-the-moment decision.

"That only happened once. We just felt I should take over. Manie was playing amazing rugby, got man of the match. We didn't want to make that a thing.

"We scored a try and we told Manie 'you just focus on your game and I'll take over from here' so that was it. It's not like if he misses three kicks I automatically take over.

"We all know how well he can kick and we have full confidence. It's really not an issue. He'll probably go 100 percent this weekend."

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