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Faf de Klerk breaks silence on Jake Ball incident: ‘I don’t have any issues but he might have one with me’

Springbok scrum-half Faf de Klerk has insisted there are no hard feelings from him after an incident involving Welsh lock Jake Ball.

The pair met during Sale Sharks’ 57-14 hammering of the Scarlets in a European Champions Cup last 16 match in Llanelli last Sunday.

In the second half of that match, Ball clattered the No.9 at the back of a ruck. The incident attracted strong criticism amid claims that Ball had made contact with the head of de Klerk.

The pair do have history, clashing during the Rugby World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa in 2019.

De Klerk, however, hopes there is no animosity.

“I’m all good. It’s fine. Just a bit of a rugby incident. There are no hard feelings at all,” the Springbok told The Rugby Pod.

“I don’t have any issues with him. He might have an issue with me! But we did have a chat after the game and I don’t think there is any animosity.

“That’s how the game goes. They obviously want to try and get their team on the go and one way of doing that is to spoil the ruck for us and stop us getting quick ball.

“It just happened. Afterwards, when I looked at it then maybe I thought it was a bit more serious than I initially thought.

“But hopefully there is no animosity and we can just get along playing again.”

South African media branded it a ‘shameful and horrendous act’ but referee Mathieu Raynal waved play-on. He did consult with the TMO to deliberate whether or not Ball was offside but contact to the head was not discussed.

The Scarlet also escaped a citing, meaning that the commissioner did not deem there to be sufficient evidence to suggest Ball’s actions warranted a red card.

After the incident, de Klerk was seen remonstrating with the assistant referee but he was not even sure if he had been hit in the head.

His issue was more with why Ball was allowed to tackle him whilst, in his view, the ball was still in the ruck.

“According to me, if the referee calls ‘ball out’ then the guys can have a go at the ball but you can’t play the player,” he explained.

“So that’s what I was asking about. If the referee said the ball was out, then fine, he can have a go at the ball.

“But I’m pretty sure you can’t have a go at the player. So that was my initial thought of it.

“If I lifted the ball, then fair play, he can tackle me. That’s all I was asking.

“I wasn’t even sure about the head contact until I saw it on the replay. Then I thought that there may have been something more to it.

“But either way, the ref cleared it and we have to play on.”

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