Faf de Klerk has opened up on a key reason why the Boks beat the All Blacks this year, and how they plan on doing it again at the World Cup in Japan at the World Cup.
The Springbok’s 36-34 victory over New Zealand in Wellington in September was the All Blacks’ first loss at home since 2009, with De Klerk being a major factor in the season-defining win.
The 27-year-old put rival scrumhalf Aaron Smith under pressure throughout the game, disrupting the All Blacks attack – something he said was crucial to the victory.
“People know how good Smith is and what he brings to the team, but as a nine playing in that team, you are so comfortable. You’re never under pressure and you’re always getting front-foot ball,” De Klerk told the Daily Mail.
“I started doing it at Sale, where I’d see other nines who seemed to have a lot of time and I realised that I really needed to put them under pressure. We started that here. We put teams under a lot of pressure and won a lot of turnovers from it.
“In the Bok camp we picked up that Smith was a bit too comfortable behind the rucks, so we got in their faces and I tried to get in his face. I knew they just expected him to be at every ruck, to deliver quick ball, so I had to hit him and keep him on the ground a second longer.”
The tactic worked well, with the famous victory signalling a return to form after truly horrific period under Allister Coetzee. And now de Klerk is eyeing up the World Cup, where the Springboks now have full belief that they can topple the defending champions once again when they meet in the opening pool game.
“That first game is going to be amazing,” said De Klerk.
“We can turn everything on its head and surprise a lot of people. One of Rassie’s main points was that if we can beat New Zealand away, our chances of winning the World Cup will go up so much more.
“We’ve done that, so we know we can beat them in that pool game on neutral ground.”