Klein excited about Bok debut


Former Irish lock Jean Kleyn says he is still in a “whirlwind” after being called up to the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship and making his debut against Australia at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Kleyn, who played five tests for Ireland in 2019, can represent the Springboks this year thanks to a change in regulations by World Rugby.

Asked about his reaction when he received the call from Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s director of rugby, to play for the Springboks, Kleyn admitted he did not expect it.

“I was as shocked as the rest of the world when I got the call,” he said.

“My journey (here) was a bit back and forth, because Rassie was the person who took me to Munster, and four years later he was also the person to bring me back. It is a great honor and an opportunity that I could not pass up.”

On how it felt to make his debut for Ireland and his upcoming debut for the Springboks, Kleyn said: “It’s different because it’s my home country. It was a great honor to play for Ireland, but when I was growing up, I watched Bakkies Botha on the field and thought one day (could that be me). Dreams come true, here I am, I didn’t think I would get the opportunity, things change.

“Playing for the Springboks comes with a great responsibility. The Goats give hope to many people, so when you wear the jersey, the country’s hopes and dreams rest on your shoulders.”

With his Munster teammate RG Snyman on the bench, Kleyn said it would be an unforgettable occasion if they got the opportunity to be on the field at the same time.

“It’s amazing to have RG here. We are good friends and I have learned a lot from him here to bring me up to speed. If it works out that we can play together, it will be a special moment and a new memory.”

The experienced eight man Duane Vermeulen will lead the Springboks for the third time on Saturday when they face Australia at Loftus Versfeld in the opening match of the Rugby Championship.

The Springboks team for the match against Australia:

15 – Willie le Roux

14 – Canaan Moodie

13 – Lukhanyo Am

12 – Andre Esterhuizen

11 – Kurt-Lee Arendse

10 – Manie Libbok

9 – Cobus Reinach

8 – Duane Vermeulen (captain)

7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit

6 – Marco van Staden

5 – Marvin Orie

4 – Jean Klein

3 – Frans Malherbe

2 – Bongi Mbonambi

1 – Ox Nche


16 – Joseph Dweba

17 – Thomas du Toit

18 – Vincent Koch

19 – RG Snyman

20 – Evan Roos

21 – Deon Fourie

22 – Grant Williams

23 – Damian Willemse