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
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
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
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