Francois de Klerk is not everybody’s cup of tea. In fact, he was vilified in his own country before departing for England last year.
Now, after a season in the English Premiership with Sale Sharks, the 26-year-old finds himself back in the Springbok starting XV – ahead of Saturday’s Test against England.
It is not just in England – where he was one of the finalists for Player of the Year – that his obvious talents are recognised.
Bok flyhalf Handre Pollard also spoke of the “good season” his new halfback partner has had.
When De Klerk burst onto the international scene in 2016, Pollard was struggling with injuries.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to play with him in 2016‚” Pollard said of the No.9, affectionately known as Faf.
“He’s very quick,” the Bok No.10 said, adding: “He’s a very dangerous guy around the rucks.
“What he learnt in England now is the kicking part of the game.
“He’s matured a lot in that sense.
“He plays with a composed mindset.
“He trained like that the last few weeks and I’ve been impressed with him.”
Pollard revealed that he and his teammates would be allowed to express themselves in the opening Test of the three-match series against England.
“We’ve got a structure and a plan that we’ll follow, but that doesn’t win you Test matches. All it does is give you confidence and direction.
“You’ve still got to bring what you can to the party.
“Test matches are a lot more structured. It’s not Super Rugby, but we’re not going to take away the individual brilliance every guy has and can bring to the party.
“We want to give ourselves room to express ourselves, to play what we see.
“However, it’s also about executing. Whoever does that best will win the match.”