The Rugby World Cup-winning scrumhalf, who made his presence felt off the bench last week against Ireland, will line up against French captain Antoine Dupont in what is expected to be a thrilling battle – a challenge he was excited about.

The last time the Boks faced Les Bleus, on 10 November 2018 in Paris, Dupont came off the bench while De Klerk played the entire match, which South Africa won by 29-26 after Bongi Mbonambi scored a try in injury time.

“It means a hell of a lot to start this game,” said De Klerk.

“This season has been up and down for me, but this has been a good realisation about this jersey means to me.

“One has a different role when you play off the bench, but I’m excited to start again, and I will keep working hard and pushing for my place.”

De Klerk expected a big match-up against Dupont, the 2021 World Rugby Player of the Year, with the Bok scrumhalf describing his direct opponent as "the best No 9 in the world".

“Australia put him under pressure at times last week, and of course I will try my best to do so as well on Saturday. But it will take a team effort to contain him,” said De Klerk, who is in line to earn his 44th cap in Marseille.

De Klerk was also very excited for Manie Libbok, who could make his Springbok debut this weekend, and said they have been training well together this week.

“It is great to see Manie’s confidence as a young player,” said De Klerk.

“It is sometimes tough for a young player to walk in and tell the other players on the field what to do, but Manie has come in and he is not afraid to lead the guys.

“He has been playing good rugby in the last few years, so it will be good to see what he can do. He’s obviously a little nervous, but very excited as well.”

The Springboks had the day off on Thursday to rest and recuperate after a hard training week, and will wrap up their preparations for the Test with their captains run on Friday.