De Klerk: Boks will be ready for Lions series

Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk says the players are making sure they are ready for when the call comes to link up for the British & Irish Lions Test series.

It has been well over a year since the Springboks won the 2019 World Cup by beating England in Yokohama but, in an interview with World Rugby, De Klerk admits he cannot wait to run out in the green-and-gold jersey again.

De Klerk won the last of his 30 caps in Yokohama on 2 November 2019, when South Africa were crowned world champions for the third time.

Since then the 29-year-old scrumhalf has continued to play club rugby for Sale Sharks in the English Premiership and captained the side for the first time in the league in this past weekend’s narrow win at Gloucester.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in SA Rugby pulling the Springboks out of last year’s Rugby Championship, denying De Klerk and his Springbok teammates the chance to remind the world what they are made of.

‘We as players, we’re still in [chat] groups together, and we really want to play together and see each other again and have that same feeling that we had post-World Cup of that family environment,’ De Klerk said.

‘But there’s also that understanding that we need to accept what’s going on in the world and not be selfish and say, “I want to play”, because there are bigger things to consider.

‘I think we have handled it well but it is frustrating that it’s over a year since we played. It is definitely something I have been looking forward to for a long time.’

An ongoing second coronavirus wave in South Africa has put the start date of the British & Irish Lions tour under review, so there is plenty of uncertainty as to when the Springboks will take the field again.

De Klerk said that while he hopes the Lions series will not be postponed, the Springbok players will have to be prepared for any eventuality.

‘They [SA Rugby] are in constant chats with the players to keep us in the loop and give us some pointers on our play and to ask how we are doing. But it is so difficult because, literally within a week, everything changes.

‘I have heard they might move the Lions Tests to a later date but, hopefully, that doesn’t happen. I don’t know what it is going to look like; it might be a case of where we rock up and we have a few weeks together and we need to play.

‘We are aware of that possibility and we, as players, will have to prepare as well as we can and be mentally and physically ready for the challenge. If things go wrong, we can’t use a lack of time to prepare as an excuse. I think that is on both sides of the ball.’