Glasgow Warriors supporters won’t get the chance to see South Africa’s World Cup-winning scrum-half Faf de Klerk in next Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener after his club Sale Sharks confirmed the Springbok hero will continue to be rested.
Sale’s back-row duo Tom Curry and Mark Wilson, who played for runners-up England in Yokohama at the weekend, will also be kept at home for the trip north, while Springbok lock Lood de Jager’s arrival in England’s north-west has been delayed due to a shoulder injury that keeps him out for up to four months.
“They won’t play at Glasgow. I’m giving them two weeks off,” said Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond at yesterday’s tournament launch in Cardiff. “Obviously unlike other unions, we’re run by ourselves so we determine that. They’ll come into the competition for La Rochelle at home.”
In reference to the famous pictures of De Klerk celebrating in the Springbok dressing room after winning their third crown, Diamond joked: “Faf’s still wandering around in his underpants!”
De Klerk was seen wearing just South Africa flag design trunks, supping champagne from the Webb Ellis Trophy and also meeting Prince Harry.
“If I’m honest De Klerk, Curry and Wilson all wanted to come back in this week but common sense tells us [to give them] another couple of weeks off,” continued Diamond.
With Sale returning to Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2012-13, Diamond is relishing the opener at Glasgow.
“It will be a good fixture between evenly-matched teams,” he said. “Glasgow are traditionally a bit like ourselves, very strong at home. They will no doubt have their World Cup players back.”
Diamond has no qualms about facing the Warriors on their 4G artificial pitch. “I’m used to [the pitches] at Saracens, Worcester and Newcastle,” he said. “They’re high-grade pitches and there’s no real evidence there are more injuries than on anything else.
“We’ve got a quick game. We’ll be training at Manchester City where they’ve got indoor and outdoor 4G pitches. So, when we play on one we’ll train on one.
“The only difference we see is the scrum really, different purchase. Not many scrums go down on it, most come up.”