Bismarck and the big steaks
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – If the unfancied Sharks are to upset the Crusaders in their own Christchurch den in Saturday’s Super Rugby semi-final (09:35 SA time), captain Bismarck du Plessis is likely to be at the fulcrum of the monster effort.
That appears to be the view of the New Zealand press and possibly public, increasingly making their admiration apparent for the qualities of the Sharks skipper and Springbok stalwart.
Several newspaper and online stories in the Land of the Long White Cloud this week have referred to how pivotal the powerhouse hooker will be to the visitors’ quest for a fairytale away double over the ‘Saders this season.
Somehow, despite a murderous workload for both franchise and country in recent weeks, the 30-year-old, 114kg Du Plessis has maintained his lustre, including being at the forefront once more of their narrow 31-27 victory over the Highlanders in last weekend’s Durban “quarter-final”.
On Saturday he locks horns directly once more with the Crusaders’ Corey Flynn, himself no shrinking violet and a 15-cap All Black.
Earlier in the week, Chris Rattue of the New Zealand Herald (www.nzherald.co.nz) wrote: “The Sharks are led by Bismarck du Plessis, who is up there with Kieran Read and Brodie Retallick as the most influential forward in rugby union.
“Du Plessis is an absolute beast – he led a demolition of the Highlanders’ scrum and was immense around the field, and threw a few neat passes.”
On Thursday, Christchurch and South Island organ The Press (www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/) quoted Wellington-born coach Chris Boyd, who assisted John Plumtree at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010, as saying Du Plessis was a model professional.
“Bismarck was always going to be potentially the best hooker in the world. He’s physically so imposing and also outstanding in his role.
“Every day after training, he would go through his lineout routine 100 to 200 times.”
Boyd also recalled an invitation once to the farm of the Du Plessis brothers’ parents in Bethlehem.
“My memory of the boys is going to their farm and having brunch on a Sunday. Mrs Du Plessis served us a T-bone steak and there was no room for anything else on the plate.
“They’re unbelievably hospitable people ... a great family.”
Boyd said that if the Sharks were to prosper against the odds on Saturday, it would be vital they did not allow the Crusaders to get off to a flier, given the effects of their long-haul travel for the semi.
Whatever happens, expect another meaty showing from the Sharks hooker?
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