Faf de Klerk gives lowdown on his team-mates as world champions South Africa prepare to face England


World champions South Africa are preparing to face England at Twickenham on Saturday in a rematch of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, which the Springboks won 32-12 in a brutal display of forward dominance. 

There are several new faces in the starting XV from the side that defeated Eddie Jones’ men two years ago. 

So, injured scrum-half Faf de Klerk has given Sportsmail the ultimate lowdown on his team-mates, picking out the hunter, the future politician… and the party animal! 

As South Africa prepare to face England at Twickenham on Saturday, injured scrum half Faf de Klerk (pictured, centre) has given Sportsmail the ultimate lowdown on all his team-mates

1 Ox Nche

His real name is Retshegofaditswe, so Ox for short! He’s been playing great rugby since the Beast Tendai Mtawarira retired. He loves a good scrum, and gets underneath folks at the set-piece as he’s only 5ft 8in.

2 Bongi Mbonambi

Everybody loves Bongi. I’ve known him since playing for the Blue Bulls Under-16 team. He was born in Bethlehem, Free State, and is very Christian. His work-ethic is amazing and he loves a physical challenge, but is soft at heart.

3 Trevor Nyakane

Stuck his tongue out when he won penalties against the Lions — now it’s become a trademark! He’s phenomenal at scrum time. He’s the life and soul of the party and has funny dance moves! Trevor and Bongi are like twins — always together.

'Ox' Nche is so nicknamed because his real name is Retshegofaditswe - he's a fine scrummager

‘Ox’ Nche is so nicknamed because his real name is Retshegofaditswe – he’s a fine scrummager

4 Eben Etzebeth

Eben is the most capped player in the side with 95 Boks appearances. His family were champion wrestlers. He has a lot of respect among us — he’s not just an enforcer but a massive family guy.

5 Lood de Jager

Lives in Altrincham — Alty! — so we don’t see a lot of Lood at Sale. His kid keeps him busy when he’s not in the club, as he’s straight to daddy duties. Great tactician and a lineout specialist who brings a lot of physicality.

6 Siya Kolisi

I saw him signing someone’s budgie smugglers in Scotland; they’re similar to the pair I wore when we won the World Cup. I got tagged in all the videos! He always says we’re playing for much more than ourselves and he plays with that in his heart. 

He takes a lot of pressure off us by taking a lot on his shoulders. He found that difficult initially but he’s grown into a great leader. Would be a great politician!

Captain Siya Kolisi has the personality, leadership and temperament to be a future politician

Captain Siya Kolisi has the personality, leadership and temperament to be a future politician

7 Kwagga Smith

I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to work out that he’s taken a few hits to the nose! He’s a crazy guy, all or nothing, who does everything, on and off the field, balls to the wall. He’s into his business, golf and hunting down on his farm.

8 Duane Vermeulen

Nicknamed ‘Thor’ after the Marvel character. He’s an unbelievably strong guy from the same place as me in South Africa, Nelspruit, so my dad has known him for ages. 

We’re good friends. He’s the father of the group, to keep everyone in check, and is very well respected.

9 Cobus Reinach

He’s unbelievably quick, and has a lot of hyperactive energy. He’s a fun guy to be around and is up for anything. Cobus did well at Northampton, so English fans will know him. He went to Grey College in Bloemfontein, the same as Frans Steyn.

Scrum-half Cobus Reinach (right) has a lot of hyperactive energy and is really fun to be around

Scrum-half Cobus Reinach (right) has a lot of hyperactive energy and is really fun to be around

10 Handre Pollard

We call him ‘KP’, the king-pin! He’s very calm, never seems to get rattled, which you need as the general. He has the respect of forwards and backs. He’d be a great addition to the Premiership if he wants to come.

11 Makazole Mapimpi

Mapimps is an awesome guy from a tough background. When he joined he was very raw, had a lot to learn, but now he speaks if he wants to add value. 

He’s grown into an amazing player, and has scored 19 tries in 24 Tests — and against every Test team he’s faced!

12 Damian de Allende

His centre partnership with Lukhanyo is one of the world’s best. He’s playing phenomenal rugby and links so well with Handre. 

Never backs down from a challenge. The dude loves golf and has become a dad recently, so he’s very committed to that.

Jesse Kriel, usually a centre but on the wing, has a great work ethic and adds value to the team

Jesse Kriel, usually a centre but on the wing, has a great work ethic and adds value to the team

13 Lukhanyo Am

He’s only played 24 Tests but is one of the senior men in the side already. He and Mapimpi have a great relationship having both played for the Border Bulldogs Currie Cup team in the Eastern Cape. 

Against New Zealand he was stepping, passing round-the-back offloads… I said, where the hell has this come from!

14 Jesse Kriel

Usually a centre, but moved to the wing. His work ethic, wherever he is selected, doesn’t change, so he adds so much value to the side. He’s trying to start a business after rugby, so we talk a lot about life after our careers together.

15 Willie le Roux

Willie is a guy who sees opportunity with a vision that is second to none, as Wasps fans will know. He loves the Springboks more than anyone — and does everything to make sure the team perform. 

Loves to play golf and does a lot with his family. An awesome guy.

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