- Title: Big hearted de Klerk stands by Springbok aerial assault
- Date: 23rd October 2019
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (OCTOBER 23, 2019) (REUTERS) SOUTH AFRICAN SCRUM HALF, FAF DE KLERK CATCHING BALL DE KLERK KICKING BALL DE KLERK CATCHING BALL (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA, LOOSE FORWARD, FRANCOIS LOUW, SAYING: "It's obviously massive lift in terms of, you know, physical pressure that a player puts on the opposition, there's no doubt that a big hit from any player gets guys excited, you know, at first it creates a defensive momentum, forces the attack to take a few steps back to realign there. Their attack process, and a guy like Faf is really good at it, I mean, he picks his moments, he sort of drifts behind the line then rabbits out and makes big spot tackles, usually on the big forwards, which is, I've got to say, quite impressive from a little guy but he's got a big heart." DE KLERK CATCHING AND KICKING BALL AT TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA SCRUM HALF, FAF DE KLERK, SAYING: "We did kick a lot in the air and Japan really managed to contain our aerial battle, but if we look further than that, after that, we managed to get so much territorial gain on them with our defence the guys being loaded on that, so I think it was a very positive outcome when we kicked. We did give them possession, but they rarely managed to do anything with it. It is going to be a different challenge this week. I don't think we are going to have the same threat as that. I think it's all about seeing the space and I feel our wings have come so far these last two years and are really competing well in the air, and I think if we can do that again this weekend, get a few balls back in the air again. They have got some good wingers (too) so I think it's going to be a massive battle in the air." SPRINGBOKS RUNNING AND PASSING BALL AT TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA SCRUM HALF, FAF DE KLERK, SAYING: "It's great to see, that's, I've had to do that all my life and now I can see guys coming through specifically in our team. Cheslin has been amazing for us for his club in France from where most people say you have to big to play France and he's actually played them a lot. It's great to see and like you said it gives lot of young kids and people that might shy away because of their size, gives them confidence and if you have heart and you are willing to work hard you would reach your dreams. That's sometimes what I play for too, to inspire people, especially younger kids to see what I can do." FAF DE KLERK SPINNING BALL ON HIS FINGER AND KICKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA SCRUM HALF, FAF DE KLERK, SAYING: "There's a nice funny picture where it says I can spin a ball and kick so is that a 'spinnekop'? So that was pretty funny for me to see, so there is a lot of humour in it and yes if you get caught up that kind of stuff, you are losing focus what you need to do, so yeah." SPRINGBOKS AT TRAINING
- Embargoed: 6th November 2019 08:39
- Keywords: Rugby Union South Africa Rugby World Cup Faf de Klerk Springboks
- Location: TOKYO, JAPAN
- City: TOKYO, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Rugby Union,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001B2BFYNZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Faf de Klerk would make an unlikely Spiderman with his distinctive mane of blonde hair but the South Africa scrumhalf does share one trait with the fictional superhero as a smaller man who packs a big punch.
In a team not short of heavy tacklers, the effervescent halfback, who stands 5 ft 6 in (1.72 m) tall, has produced big hit after big hit at the World Cup as the Springboks have worked their way to Sunday's (October 27) semi-final against Wales.
For de Klerk, the fact that he and the slightly smaller winger Cheslin Kolbe (1.71 m) have become integral parts of the South Africa team is a matter of great pride and, he hopes, an inspiration to youngsters.
One aspect of de Klerk's game that was more problematic for Springbok fans desperate to see their backline unleashed was the frequency with which he went to the box kick in last weekend's quarter-final victory over Japan.
De Klerk conceded that South Africa do kick a lot but he did not see that changing much in Yokohama on Sunday against a Welsh side similarly fond of putting boot to ball.
De Klerk is becoming a bit of a cult hero in Japan and further afield with his ability to spin the ball on his finger in particular attracting plenty of new fans.
His dedication to kicking from hand has also inspired plenty of less adulatory comment online but one play on the Afrikaans word for spider particularly caught his fancy.
"There's a nice funny picture where it says I can spin a ball and kick so is that a 'spinnekop'?" he said.
(Production: Jill Gralow, Yoko Kono)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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