Both were still on club duty in Europe a few weeks ago and missed the Springboks’ Test victory over Georgia before reporting for duty with the national squad, but both Rugby World Cup winners were named in the starting team to face the Lions on Wednesday, and their excitement was pulpable.
“I had a fantastic season in Toulouse, but my focus now is on the national team,” said Kolbe, who will start on the right wing.
“I’m fortunate and excited to be part of this team and I’m looking forward to wearing the green and gold jersey again.”
De Klerk, who will partner up with veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn at halfback, was equally excited and said: “I had a pretty decent season at the Sale Sharks and enjoyed the year, but it is great to get an opportunity with the Boks.”
Kolbe was confident that the SA ‘A’ team would be up for the challenge against a quality British & Irish Lions team after missing a week of training following a six-day preventative self-isolation period in their rooms in Johannesburg last week.
“It doesn’t take a lot to get a Springbok up - when one pulls that jersey over your head and there are 57 million people watching, we give everything, and we play for one another. The guys are excited, and they want to fire out there," said Kolbe, who also spoke highly of the tourists from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
“They are a well-balanced team in general. They have a mix of big players and some who run with the ball. I’ve competed against some of them in Europe and I know what they can do.
“We have a big challenge ahead against a good British & Irish Lions team, and I am really looking forward to it.”
De Klerk will line up with British & Irish Lions tour captain Conor Murray in Cape Town on Wednesday, and while he expected the Munster scrumhalf to have a strong presence, he said the whole British & Irish Lions team posed a challenge.
“Murray has a good kicking game and that will be important in the games going forward,” De Klerk said.
“But they have a good mix of players and that can change the dynamic of the way they want to play, so there is a bigger challenge than just Murray.”