Former Springbok and Lions scrumhalf Faf de Klerk emerged as a goal-kicking matchwinner as the Sale Sharks claimed a 30-29 victory over Harlequins in the English Premiership at the weekend.
De Klerk left the Lions to join the English club last year, and while he was not commonly-regarded as a place-kicker, he has adopted this role with aplomb for the Sharks.
The 26-year-old has quickly established himself as the first-choice scrumhalf at the Sharks due to his speed, solid service and X-factor on attack, but it’s his handy impact as a goal-kicker that has caught many by surprise.
Just this past weekend, De Klerk held his nerve to slot a crucial penalty with five minutes remaining to hand the Sharks a thrilling victory over the Saints.
It points to another string that De Klerk has added to his bow, with the nippy No 9 emerging as a highly influential allround player.
Notably, De Klerk’s former Lions teammate Rohan Janse van Rensburg has also very quickly become a firm fan favourite at the Sale Sharks, with his brace of tries also proving crucial to victory on Saturday.
However, it’s De Klerk’s professional evolution that once again raises the pertinent question of just why many South African players seem to reach the peak of personal performance only once they have headed overseas?
At the latest count, over 150 South Africans are plying their trade overseas, with De Klerk just one of the players who has taken his game to a new level since heading abroad.