Springboks halfback Faf de Klerk is telling the rugby world one sure fire way to stop the All Blacks in their tracks heading into 2019 – shut down Aaron Smith.
Having starred in South Africa’s 36-34 win over the All Blacks in Wellington, 27-year old de Klerk told the Daily Mail about his side’s plan to stop Smith, resulting in the halfback being replaced by TJ Perenara earlier than coach Steve Hansen wanted.
“People know how good Smith is and what he brings to the team, but as a nine playing in that team, you are so comfortable. You’re never under pressure and you’re always getting front-foot ball,” De Klerk said.
“I started doing it at Sale, where I’d see other nines who seemed to have a lot of time and I realised that I really needed to put them under pressure. We started that here. We put teams under a lot of pressure and won a lot of turnovers from it.
“With South Africa, we picked up that Smith was a bit too comfortable behind the rucks, so we got in their faces and I tried to get in his face.
“I knew they just expected him to be at every ruck, to deliver quick ball, so I had to hit him and keep him on the ground a second longer.”
However, the All Blacks would take revenge on the Springboks, coming away with a 32-30 win in Pretoria to end the Rugby Championship.