British & Irish Lions three-tour veteran Scott Gibbs believes scrumhalf Faf de Klerk will be decisive for a Springbok series win against the tourists, writes Mark Keohane.
Gibbs, who was the player of the series when the Lions beat the Springboks 2-1 in the 1997 series, played 15 times for the Lions in three tours to New Zealand (1993), South Africa (1997) and Australia (2001). He is in Cape Town, South Africa for the next six weeks and will be a regular guest three times a week on Keo.co.za, SA Rugby Magazine and Moneyman for the duration of the tour.
I sat down with him and Moneyman on Thursday to talk about the Lions and the Springboks in the first part of the pilot video and Gibbs, a bulldozer at centre for Wales, the Lions and St Helens, Wales and Great Britain in Rugby League, unpacked the Lions squad and also identified the areas in which he believes the Springboks are strong.
Gibbs said that a player like Duane Vermeulen was not replaceable but was intrigued by the selection of Kwagga Smith at No 8, whom he said was the kind of player he loved.
When it came to the Springboks Gibbs said you only as good as your last game – and that was the 32-12 win against England in the 2019 World Cup final – and on that the Boks were favourites to beat the British & Irish Lions. However, he said the Boks would play two Tests and that the Lions had five matches before the 24th July first Test and that so much would change in opinion, appreciation and condemnation before the first of three Tests.
Of all the Bok key pillars, he identified De Klerk as being crucial to the way the Boks defend, to the energy of the Bok team and to the form of a player who has been superb for the Sale Sharks in the English Premiership.
Gibbs also applauded the impact of Damian de Allende for Munster and spoke with respect about the strength of the Springboks front row and the depth in the Bok front row.
Gibbs also dissected the Lions players and gave us an insight into who he felt would be influential in South Africa, the possible combinations and he gives us an understanding to being a Lions player in South Africa.
Have a watch and tune in to all of our videos throughout the tour.