Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk flies home to South Africa tomorrow to start preparing for the Springboks assault on the World Cup in Japan not knowing if he has helped Sale Sharks qualify for next season’s Heineken Cup competition.
De Klerk’s brilliant attacking play conjured up two outstanding late tries to help Sale defeat Gloucester 46-41, however, Bath’s 32-31 win at Leicester consigned the Sharks to a seventh place finish and they now have to rely on La Rochelle beating Bordeaux in the Top14 to finish in the top six.
That would trigger an extra Cup qualifying position for the Gallagher Premiership thanks to Saracens’ Heineken Cup triumph and it would go to Sale.
The live wire No9 is on the six man short list to be named Gallagher Player of the Season in the Premiership which makes de Klerk’s assertion that he is not guaranteed a place in the Springbok World Cup squad difficult to comprehend. However, De Klerk takes nothing for granted and is prepared to put in the hard yards when invited to take part in the pre-Cup Springbok training camps because that is the way he attacks every rugby challenge.
It is why he refused to accept that Gloucester had established a winning 41-31 lead at the AJ Bell Stadium and highlights the massive impact achieved since joining Sale.
Last year de Klerk kick-started is stalled test career with such success he was vying for the World Player of Year and he is certain to be a key figure as the Springboks chase a third World Cup in Japan.
De Klerk , who will be joined by another six South African players at Sale next season including lock Lood de Jager, said: “I am flying back to South Africa on Monday and I will hopefully have a few weeks off.
“I am really excited but the Springbok World Cup squad has still to be announced. If I get the call up I will take it.
“It is has been a bit quiet in terms of contact because the Super Rugby season is taking place back home and they started some alignment camps a few weeks ago. Hopefully, I can rock up, get the call up and get the knowledge I will need to get.
“There have been some good wins in Super Rugby and it appears that things are slowly coming together and watching those game it is good that all the Springbok guys are performing. You want to see that and it is creating a real difference in the quality of performances. I think we are going to be in a good place going into the World Cup.
“A lot of my good mates are coming over from South Africa to strengthen the Sharks squad. It will give us some depth and while we have done well, when we have got down to the wire we have struggled at points and it is credit to our medical staff to get us through the season.
“For the first time our attack was really good against Gloucester and it was something we really focussed on going into the game. We have grown in that sense and what let us down was out defence which had been good this season, however, overall we played well. To get a win in the final game of the season against a quality side is always great but we have a lot of stuff to work on for next season.”
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