South Africa ‘eager’ for Ireland crunch: De Klerk

Friday, Sep 22, 2023

PARIS: Springbok scrum-half Faf de Klerk said on Thursday his teammates are “well prepared and eager” to get on with this weekend’s eagerly awaited Pool B encounter with Ireland in Paris.

Defending champions South Africa opened their World Cup account with a hard-fought 18-3 win over Scotland and followed that with a 76-0 demolition of Romania.Ireland, meanwhile, have had comfortable bonus point wins over Romania and Tonga.

Saturday’s contest in front of a sold-out 80,000-capacity Stade de France will be a different level entirely for both teams, matching the intensity and quality of the tournament’s opening fixture between hosts France and New Zealand.

“There’s a lot at stake,” De Klerk said in Thursday’s press briefing. “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.”

The Springboks have won 18 of their 27 previous matches with Ireland but it is the Irish who have held the upper hand in recent years, winning four of the last six meetings, including a 19-16 victory in Dublin last November.

Following that the Irish went on to win the Six Nations Grand Slam and claim the number one ranking in the world.“Obviously you get confidence from winning, you learn how to win and they’ve done that,” says De Klerk.

“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.” De Klerk returns to the number nine jersey after filling in at fly-half against Romania but with the coaching team of Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber opting for a 7-1 forward split on the bench, he will be needed to cover if anything happens to Manie Libbok.