Well if they’re Faf de Klerk they do and as the Sale Sharks pocket rocket continues to set the Aviva Premiership alight RugbySaleSharks thought it was time to have a chat with the South African who’s busy capturing hearts – and not just in Manchester!
So first up – Faf is quite an unusual name in the UK. Real name is Francois but it turns out that Faf is quite a common shortening in South Africa. How is he enjoying Manchester and the beaming smile lights up the room. Manchester may love Faf but it’s definitely reciprocated. He tells me he’s enjoying it a lot – exploring the city and certainly meeting the people who have all been welcoming. He’s particularly appreciative of the support given to him by the ‘lads’ who’ve helped him and all the new lads settle in.
However he’s not needed much help to settle into the team and is currently Vice-captain supporting initially Will (Addison) and now Jono Ross. He tells me his style is to provide leadership on the field rather than psychological speeches in the dressing room before the game. I ask if that’s provided added pressure and he feels it’s good for him as a player to have that responsibility. I point out that he certainly looks bossy on the pitch and training ground and he laughs and tells me its his job as scrum-half to ‘boss’ the game. All scrum-halfs need to be loud and assertive (read bossy) and when he finds out I’m the Mother of one he’s happy to pass on a few tips.
We move on to the differences between Super Rigby and the Premiership and its clear that Faf is enjoying life in the Premiership, although he feels there’s been little difference. What he does like in the Premiership is that performances so far have shown that any team in the league can win at any time. He’s found all the teams to be very good and open to winning, especially at home. The playing styles are very similar to Super League. I ask if Faf misses The Lions and he does – players, fans and everyone at the club! He’s quick to remind me though that he’s glad he made the move and is loving life at Sale.
So why Sale Sharks? He sees them as an up and coming, ambitious team who are interested in building a legacy for the future. He finds the coaches open to discussion and has a real feeling that the best is yet to come. So certainly no regrets. It has helped that he already knew Jono (Ross) well and indeed stayed with him in the first few weeks until he could get his new city apartment sorted.
Unfortunately his very lovely (sorry ladies) girlfriend, Mime Van Kiekerk was unable to make the move with him but the pair are working hard at making their long distance relationship continue to work – indeed Mime is over at the moment and will be cheering Faf on at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday evening.
Whilst here Faf has succumbed to the city’s football obsession and greatly enjoyed his first time watching Manchester United, although he won’t declare an allegiance until he’s seen Manchester City play. I try to interest him in Liverpool but he has his sights fixed with his adopted city!
I ask him if he has plans to regrow the moustache we saw against Gloucester and I can exclusively guarantee an impressive Movember growth. Couple of you had asked about his shampoo (really!!!!) and he tells me it’s just Bentonite and nothing special. I’d be getting him signed up for a promotional deal if I was them.
How does he feel about the hiatus in his international career and he admits that had been the issue that had given him most thought. However at 25 he’s certainly young enough to have a good few years at Sale and still move back to South Africa.
I ask him what the secret is about his perpetual smile and that he’s never seen without it. He tells me that life is good – he loves Sale and Manchester but that he firmly believes that you should enjoy every moment that life gives you.
With that – he’s off to the gym – and it certainly does look as if this blonde is having the time of his life!
Thanks to Faf de Klerk and Dave Swanton – as ever.