Of course, it would be easy for the Bulls youngsters to be overawed by World Cup-winning Boks in their squad, but it is quite the opposite at Loftus Versfeld at the moment.
When Sebastian de Klerk was asked if he has tried to run around Springbok stars Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie during Bulls training yet, it brought a loud giggle.
“No, I haven’t tried to run around them yet. I haven’t had that opportunity, but we will all try to test each other and attempt to run around each other.
“But they are top guys … It’s great to train with and against them, and I am really enjoying it.“
Of course, it would be easy for De Klerk and other youngsters to be overawed by World Cup-winning Boks in their squad, but it is quite the opposite at Loftus Versfeld at the moment.
Arendse, Moodie, Willie le Roux and Marco van Staden are sharing all their tricks with the rest of the squad. De Klerk, who has mainly featured at wing in his first Bulls season, will be one of those players who taps the vast reservoir of experience that those Bok three-quarters possess.
He spoke glowingly about how Le Roux is “a very smart rugby player” and during “that first week training with him, it felt like I trained with him 100 times, just because of how good and clearly he communicates”.
De Klerk added that watching Le Roux, Arendse and Moodie go about their business not only gives him insight into what the Springboks do, but also raises the level of competition in the squad.
The Bulls are getting ready for Saturday’s massive Champions Cup showdown with Saracens at Loftus Versfeld (7.30pm kick-off), and De Klerk may miss the cut for the match-day 23.
But he knows that he will get his opportunity during the season, like he did in the first few weeks of the United Rugby Championship.
“The Blue Bulls Rugby Union is in a good place in terms of confidence, and we have a very strong squad – and the fact that we are winning now, everybody is buying into the plan,” the former Pumas star said.
“Everybody is putting themselves second so that the team will succeed, and if the team go places, then the players will also go places. The Boks are bringing a different energy and confidence to the squad as well, and they are also a big part of why we are doing so well.
“That is the Bulls’ plan: to have a strong squad, so that we can win every weekend even if you rotate your players.
“It gives you a lot of confidence to know that you will get an opportunity. It lifts a squad’s morale as well, because if you had to just train the whole time and you don’t play, you will get frustrated because you are working as hard as the next guy and want to play as much.”
And while Saracens boast a formidable squad that includes England captain Owen Farrell and other top internationals such as lock Maro Itoje and hooker Jamie George, brothers Billy and Mako Vunipola, as well as former Bok and Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, the home side has a powerful unit, too.
“We’ve been prepping all week … (Saracens) are world class, and it’s going to be an absolute fight – every point that we are going to get, we will need to work for it,” De Klerk said.
“And it will be the same for them … We have as good a team as them, good individuals, and we stand a good chance to beat them. But it will be a very good challenge for us to measure ourselves against the best out there.”