The 23-year-old made the Lions No9 jersey his own in Super Rugby and while he’ll join the Joburg team on a permanent basis from next year right now he’s a Pumas player and a man the men from Mpumalanga will heavily rely on as they seek to crack a semi-final berth this season.
De Klerk can expect to be closely watched by the Lions tomorrow, but at the same time the nippy scrumhalf knows just about everything there is to know about his opponents.
Lions boss Johan Ackermann admits it’s never easy going up against a ‘teammate’. “It’s always difficult. But it’s not only Faf who we know well. Corne Fourie has been part of our squad, while Rudi Matthee and Stefan Watermeyer have at some stage also spent time with us. These guys are all part of our family,” said Ackermann.
Lions openside flank and captain Jaco Kriel said the likes of De Klerk would keep him and his teammates on their toes. “Faf’s a great player and he’ll always ask questions. He’ll certainly challenge our defensive lines so we’re in for a big test.
“We know what a lot of their players are capable of and how they like to play the game so it’s going to be a massive challenge. There’s no question the Pumas are a team in form and they’ll come here believing they can make it two wins in a row.”
The Pumas will, indeed, be in good spirits after putting the Sharks away last weekend, but the Lions, too, registered a good win in Port Elizabeth, running in six tries to open their account against The Kings. Ackermann though said his team produced a far from perfect performance.
“Any victory is a good one and I’m pleased we were able to get our campaign off to a good start. I thought we played exceptional rugby in the first 16 minutes (when the Lions scored four converted tries), but after that a few mistakes crept into our game,” said Ackermann.
“It just again proves that you’re never going to master the game. We’ve got a lot of areas we need to work on because we know we’re not going to get a lead like that again. The Pumas will be a big arm-wrestle; we wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Pumas boss MJ Mentz has retained the same side that beat the Sharks last weekend. Pumas STARTING XV: JW Bell, Bernado Botha, Jerome Pretorius, Stefan Watermeyer (capt), Rosco Spekman, JC Roos, Faf de Klerk, Lambert Groenewald, Uzair Cassiem, Marnus Schoeman, Marius Coetzer, Giant Mtyanda, De-Jay Terblanché, Frank Herne, Khwezi Mona;
Replacements: Francois du Toit, Corné Fourie, Jason-Colin Fraser, Jaco Bouwer, Reynier van Rooyen, Justin van Staden, Hoffmann Maritz - The Star
Original source: Lions wary of ‘one of their own’