Du Preez passes first major test
Cape Town - There was a bit of hit-and-miss, but there can be no doubt that Robert du Preez passed his first major test as the Stormers' Super Rugby flyhalf for 2016 on Saturday.
The 22-year-old scored 23 of his side's points in their 33-9 win over the Bulls at Loftus, and put on a faultless goal-kicking display in the process.
With the Stormers looking to implement a more expansive and attacking philosophy in 2016, there had been much focus on their decision not to recruit a replacement flyhalf for Demetri Catrakilis in the off-season.
Instead, new coach Robbie Fleck has placed his trust in Du Preez.
"He’s a young kid. We need to give him time. I
thought he had a solid performance," Fleck said of Du Preez's showing against the Bulls.
"Still not there where he probably wants to
be ... but he certainly stepped up. It’s a big game to play as 10 ...
especially as a young 10 and I think he did exceptionally well. He’ll take a
lot of confidence from this."
A cagey first half saw the Stormers go into the break 9-6 up, and there was a feeling that Du Preez had engaged in some rather aimless kicking during the first period.
That, says Fleck, was the result of the pressure that the visitors had put them under.
"I think it’s a combination of things. They were
putting us under pressure ... I felt that their kicking game was quite smart in
that first half," said Fleck.
"I felt that he made good decisions because they
were defending very well and we just can't run it from everywhere. We were
trying to and we probably forced our hand a little bit too much and put him
"He just needs to learn maybe to kick a little bit earlier ...
but overall he had a good performance."
Fleck was thrilled with Du Preez's goal-kicking performance, which saw him slot three conversions and four penalties to add to the try he scored.
"For a young flyhalf to have BMT and slot those
goals ... they weren’t all easy," Fleck said.
"A lot of them were from difficult angles ...
"We all know that the flyhalf in Western Province and Stormers is
a contentious issue ... but let’s just give him the credit that he did well
first up and hopefully he can build on what he started today."
The Stormers now face a trip to Bloemfontein this weekend where they will take on the Cheetahs.