Springboks

Du Preez TRIO bid for Bok tour!

2017-10-22 21:12
Robert du Preez (Gallo)

Cape Town - It is a fairly long shot, but the possibility has increased that all three Du Preez brothers earn tickets to the Springbok end-of-year tour.

The Bok squad is to be revealed the day after next Saturday's Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province in Durban (16:00) and both Du Preez loose forward twins - 22-year-olds Jean-Luc and Dan - from the showpiece-hosting side are likely to be in the party revealed by coach Allister Coetzee.

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But a pleasingly confident and constructive showing in the Newlands semi-final against the Lions from the oldest of the siblings, 24-year-old WP flyhalf Robert, who has hit fine form as the season nears its climax, only cranked up his own credentials for green-and-gold recognition.

No 8 Dan took a fair old physical battering in the Sharks' 37-27 semi-final victory over the never-say-die Blue Bulls on Saturday, but if he has escaped significant injury then he has a good chance of joining the already 10-cap Jean-Luc - capable of occupying both an eighth-man or blindside flank role - in the squad for the four-Test tour starting against Ireland in Dublin on November 11.

The national side is currently deprived at No 8 of both regular captain Warren Whiteley and long-established toughie Duane Vermeulen through injury so, with specialists in the berth in short supply, Dan’s credentials are obviously appealing.

Both loosies seem tailor-made for northern-hemisphere winter conditions with their strength, height and abrasive qualities.

But speaking of physicality, Robert du Preez is far from a shrinking violet in the No 10 channel with his 97kg frame and willingness to receive the ball close to the advantage line, attributes that also tend to bring rewards on heavier European pitches.

He has been among the most standout WP players in their hungry late charge ahead of the domestic final, a game which sees fitting protagonists now installed - they were first and second respectively in ordinary season - and the old coastal foes meeting in their first Currie Cup showpiece against each other since 2013.

On that occasion, the Sharks raided Newlands for a 33-19 outcome, albeit that only a year earlier the result went the other way around in Durban, Province winning 25-18.

Du Preez kicked with tactical intelligence and enterprise in general play in the rousing, passionate triumph over the Lions on Saturday, and also struck the ball crisply off the tee, whilst his defensive commitment came to the fore in a collective WP showing marked by frequent, thumping tackles across the board and grim desperation not to have their try-line breached.

He should come up against impressive young Curwin Bosch at pivot in the final, although he may need to significantly outfox him on Saturday if he is to be a late Bok selection.

That said, while Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard ought to also be on the plane, Bosch offers utility value amidst the back three, so a third out-and-out specialist No 10 for the tour cannot be ruled out.

If he does make the cut at the eleventh hour, Robert joining his younger brothers in the Bok squad would mean the fourth instance in history - and first since the 1980s - of three brothers earning national honours.

The last occurrence was with the gifted Du Plessis siblings - Willie, Carel and Michael - although all three never featured together in any specific Bok side.

Centre Willie and wing Carel overlapped briefly in the same Bok XV, as did Carel later with mercurial, single-minded flyhalf or midfielder Michael.

Should the Du Preez trio all play for South Africa - if not over the next few weeks, then potentially still at a later stage - they would also join father and current Sharks head coach Robert snr (now 54) as Springboks.

The unusually big, uncompromising scrumhalf played seven Tests for the Boks in the immediate post-isolation period from 1992 to 1993.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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