Faf de Klerk knocked out after horror collision with knee of All Blacks winger Caleb Clarke
"Hopefully for Faf, as that song goes, everything is going to be all right."
As Bob Marley's Three Little Birds [Don't Worry] played out across Mbombela Stadium, Faf de Klerk was down getting treatment from a concerned medical staff after a horrendous collision with Caleb Clarke.
The Springboks scrumhalf was in from the start against the All Blacks, and eager to make an early impression. Twice in the opening 40 seconds, de Klerk rushed out of defence to make hits.
On the second such occasion, the No.9 got his tackle technique all wrong and slipped into the knee of ball-carrier Clarke. De Klerk's head crunched into Clarke's knee and he was instantly sparked out.
Host broadcasters Supersport initially showed replays but, recognising how badly hurt de Klerk was, stopped as he was down getting treated. The clip is below but it may distress some of a more squeamish disposition:
Terrible viaje se comió Faf de klerk al intentar detener a Clarke, cabeza contra rodilla, quedó grogui… @AlfredoConrad @chelobosch #RugbyChampionship pic.twitter.com/hTJrRkbNIi
— Juan Chacón Montero (@j_chaconmontero) August 6, 2022
Faf de Klerk stretchered off
The hold-up in play was seven minutes, as medics attended to Faf de Klerk and a stretcher was sent for.
Down on the sideline, former Springboks outhalf Joel Stransky told Supersport that de Klerk was 'moving his arms and talking' but added that 'he was not moving for the first two or three minutes'.
With just 0:43 on the game clock, Jaden Hendrikse was brought on for his fellow scrumhalf. It was later confirmed that de Klerk had failed Head Injury Assessment 1. Players can often be deemed to have failed HIA 1 by match footage alone, and without being asked to go through the cognitive tests.
18 minutes into the opening match of the 2022 Rugby Championship, there was a huge cheer around the stadium as Faf de Klerk returned to the sideline, acknowledged the crowd and took his place on the Springbok bench.
The Boks, at that stage, were leading New Zealand 10-0 after a converted Kurt-Lee Arendse try and a Handré Pollard penalty.