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Monday Oct 21, 2019

Faf de Klerk struggles to win over critics despite player of the match performance

Going into the Springboks’ quarter-final against Rugby World Cup hosts Japan in Tokyo on Sunday, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was under a lot of pressure from fans.

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After a poor performance against the All Blacks at the beginning of the tournament, a big display was expected from the Sale Sharks man, particularly with Herschel Jantjies and Cobus Reinach behind him in the squad.

Many would have thought de Klerk had answered his critics as the Springboks won 26-3, and he came away with the player of the match award, in a game where he had a hand in a lot of the action.

The 28-year-old’s box kicking and tactical kicking had vastly improved from the Test against the All Blacks, he was a persistent threat around the breakdown and defended superbly in the wider channels of the field. His performance was capped off with a try, after a destructive maul from his forwards.

Despite the award, many Springboks fans on social media are still critical of the halfback, and feel he kicked possession away too much. Although it was an improvement from the Test against the reigning champions, many fans wanted to see the Springboks keep hold of the ball.

This was clearly a tactic of Rassie Erasmus’, not only because Japan had shown themselves to be susceptible under the high ball over the RWC, but it would force them to play within their own half. But this approach has not sat well with some fans.

After scoring two tries, Makazole Mapimpi was worthy of being player of the match according to some, as was Pieter-Steph du Toit after a typically tireless performance.

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It looks as though de Klerk still has a long way to go to win over some sceptical fans.

This is what was said:

https://twitter.com/IncGrowth4All/status/1185900410705457152?s=20

After being nominated for World Rugby player of the year in 2018, a lot is expected of de Klerk, and with Jantjies waiting behind him, the pressure has been on him all RWC.

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However, Erasmus has backed him for much of his tenure in charge of the Springboks, and with Wales waiting in the semi-final, it seems unlikely that he would turn his back on his scrumhalf so deep into the tournament.

Watch extended highlights of South Africa vs Japan below

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