‘The two are quite detached to me’ – Jean Kleyn on facing his former team

Dylan Coetzee

Second-row Jean Kleyn in Springbok training.

Springboks second-row and dual international Jean Kleyn claims that representing Ireland was different to playing for his home country.

After voting against the eligibility law changes the Springboks subsequently decided to make use of it by drafting in Kleyn, who played five Tests for Ireland in 2019.

The move made sense after the Munsterman showed incredible form in his side’s brilliant run into the United Rugby Championship title.

Dual international

However, it puts the star in a unique position as the two teams lock horns in a Rugby World Cup for the first time in history.

Kleyn, who has been named on the bench for this weekend, insists that things are different now whilst also underlining how it was an honour to represent both countries.

“The two are quite detached to me. I was a different person back then,” Kleyn told reporters.

“I was much younger, I paid a lot more attention to what people said compared to now, especially in the media.

“There was massive pride for me to represent Ireland back then and now I have a massive opportunity to be able to represent my country of birth.”

The change of the laws to allow players to make the switch in the way Kleyn has came with some criticism, but the lock is not concerned and is only focused on his inner circle.

“It’s a lot of outside noise to me, I try to focus on what happens inside the team and my family,” Kleyn said.

“I try to focus on the internal conversations I’m having.

“I know the reasons why I do things and I know those reasons will change,” he added.

The devil is in the detail

What the situation does offer for the Springboks is an interesting insight into the Irish camp through Kleyn’s experience having played with a large contingent of their squad.

The South African singled out Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony as two players in the squad who power Ireland’s meticulous attention to detail.

“They’re an incredibly clinical team, that’s the thing with the Irish, they tend to nail the details,” Kleyn said.

“Guys like Johnny and Peter are quite serious about driving the detail and not making small mistakes.

“They drive precision and execution. We’ll have to pitch up on the day,” he added.

It is set to be a blockbuster Test that is set to decide the winners of Pool B when they clash on Saturday night at the Stade de France in Paris.

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