"title": "Faf looks likely Bok No 9",
    "image": "https:\/\/images.supersport.com\/2018\/4\/Faf-de-Klerk-160624-Training-G-300.jpg",
    "body": "<p>There is a month of Vodacom Super Rugby remaining before the break for the June internationals but don\u2019t expect the rugby to be played before the end of May to have a significant bearing on who wears the Springbok No 9 jersey against Wales and England.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nThe man most likely to slot into the important scrumhalf position is former Lions and current Sale Sharks halfback Faf de Klerk. He's been mentioned by Bok coach Rassie Erasmus as one of the players he has had meetings with regarding continuing his international future with the South African national team.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nErasmus spoke highly of De Klerk and his form in England when he returned to South Africa from his 18-month stint as director of rugby at Ireland province Munster last November. While De Klerk had flaws in his game, particularly his tactical kicking prowess, when he made his Bok debut in 2016, and subsequently lost his starting place in the Lions team, by all accounts he has grown and become a more rounded player at Sale.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\nThe conditions in England would have demanded of De Klerk that he develop in the areas where he may have lacked in South Africa. While he did not say that De Klerk would be his scrumhalf when he was interviewed by the media following the last Bok alignment camp before the squad for the June internationals will be selected, he wasn\u2019t shy to admit that scrumhalf was one area where no clear candidate had emerged in Super Rugby.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n\u201cAmong our four franchises, at scrumhalf in particular, no one has put their hand up and made the position their own,\u201d said Erasmus.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\n\u201cOur reference point is what the answer would be if we ask ourselves \u2018will this guy be our first choice at the World Cup with another 18 tests worth of experience?\u2019 If the answer is \u2018yes\u2019 then we have our answer.\u201d<\/p><p>\r\n\r\nErasmus clearly hasn\u2019t seen any one player emerge who would fit that bill, and that is understandable if you consider that none of the franchises have been settled at scrumhalf this season. However, he has seen some performances that have made him sit up and take notice, as evidenced by his decision to pull the Bulls' Ivan van Zyl into his communication structure subsequent to the good performances he has turned in over the past few weeks.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n\u201cThe guys who were at the camps have the inside track but if I take Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl for example, he has put up his hand since not being invited to camp,\u201d said Erasmus.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\n\u201cHe is now being incorporated in our communication, where players are asked to work on certain aspects of their game. That has been done in conjunction with the franchises and there is definitely a chance for players to force their way into our thinking, like Ivan has done.\u201d\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nErasmus poured further fuel on the possible return to international rugby of former Bok captain Adriaan Strauss, who retired from the international game after leading the team through Allister Coetzee\u2019s calamitous first season as Bok coach. Strauss is now in the form of his life and appears rejuvenated at the Bulls under the coaching of John Mitchell and has said he would be prepared to come out of retirement if he felt he could make a positive contribution.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nMalcolm Marx will continue as the first choice Bok hooker this season and there shouldn\u2019t be any debate about that, but Bismarck du Plessis is one of the overseas-based Boks that Erasmus feels could make a contribution as a mentor. Strauss could also fit that bill.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n\u201cAdriaan Strauss wasn\u2019t at the initial camp (he wasn\u2019t available anyway) but he is playing so well it would be stupid to ignore him,\u201d said Erasmus.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\nApart from De Klerk and Du Plessis, the other overseas-based players mentioned by Erasmus were Frans Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Pat Lambie, Vincent Koch and Duane Vermeulen.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s not to say that any of those guys are definitely in the mix,\u201d said the Bok coach.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\nIt is understood though that Lambie, with his experience, can expect to be part of the squad, while Steyn is expected to wear the No12 jersey. If he is fit and ready, Vermeulen would be impossible to ignore, and could possibly be the team\u2019s captain, while Erasmus has a high regard for Koch.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\nOf course, tighthead is a position where there are South African-based players making a statement \u2013 Wilco Louw is the incumbent and has been solid for the Stormers, Frans Malherbe is over his injury and Trevor Nyakane is another Bulls player who is in the form of his life. However a return to play in South Africa is being mooted for Koch, and anyway, as Erasmus points out, rugby is a sport with a high attrition rate.<\/p><p>\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve spoken to a lot of the overseas-based players, but let me relate it to the flyhalves in South Africa,\u201d said Erasmus.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n\u201cDamian Willemse, Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard and Robert du Preez are all playing well but you might lose three of them to injury before the June tests, so you have to have a plan. You need more options, which is one of the reasons we are looking at our stocks overseas.\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n\u201cMy meetings with those guys can be seen as a fact-finding mission to make sure they are hungry, motivated and still want to play for the Boks,\u201d he added.<\/p>",
    "blurb": "Don\u2019t expect the rugby to be played before the end of May to have a significant bearing on who wears the Springbok No 9 jersey against Wales and England.",
    "date": "2018-05-27T15:59:04",
    "author": "Gavin Rich",
    "credit": "supersport.com",
    "img_credit": "Faf de Klerk \u00a9 Gallo Images",
    "category": "Springboks",
    "videos": []