Cape Town – They
can be hard to tell apart, especially on gloomy or muddy occasions.
perfectly understandable, considering that Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez are twins,
have near-identical, economical hairstyles and sport massively similar (pretty
massive too) physical dimensions.
often enough, represent two thirds of a Sharks loose trio in Super Rugby - as
will be the case on Saturday when they run out against the Chiefs in Durban (15:05).
reunited now with Philip van der Walt, who has replaced Jacques Vermeulen,
hardly helps the identification parade as he carries certain similarities in
appearance to the Du Preez boys, as well.
are tantalising times for the 22-year-old twins, given how much closer they
arguably are to a family first: playing for South Africa in the same Test
match, and perhaps even both as starters.
scenario has inched closer at least partly for injury-related reasons.
thing, blindside flank Jean-Luc now seems favourite to be stationed at No 7
(if not for the seemingly experimental contest against Wales in Washington a
week earlier, then in the first Test against England in Johannesburg) as
incumbent Pieter-Steph du Toit may well be more urgently required at lock now
that both Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth are on the side-lines.
Dan is also
much likelier now to make the cut, as eighth-man, due to the lingering
uncertainty over Bok captain Warren Whiteley’s knee problem; the popular
Lions-based figure would be well short of a gallop even if he suddenly enters
the radar for the three-Test series.
But that is
also not to say that either can yet be described as an absolute shoe-in for the
Boks, which makes compelling performances in the two remaining Sharks games
before the “window” (Chiefs, then Jaguares in Buenos Aires next weekend) important
to their respective chances.
It may not
have escaped Dan’s attention, in particular, that established Bok hardman Duane
Vermeulen is anticipated to end his three-year Toulon career on Friday night, regardless
of any onward progress by the club, as they entertain Lyon in a French Top 14
We do not
yet know whether new Bok coach Rassie Erasmus intends involving him immediately
– or even at all – in his plans, although Vermeulen’s vast experience and grunt
are extremely difficult to overlook, assuming he is currently in suitable
that Vermeulen resurfaced, a welcome event, for South Africa in two Tests at
the end of last year, wearing the No 8 jersey - he could quite feasibly play
blindside flank as well - and certainly playing his part in respective triumphs
over France and Italy.
very Tests, Dan du Preez made fleeting debut appearances off the bench, getting
a nominal seven minutes on the side of the scrum against the French and a further
six against the Italians.
But then his
chance came for a start, and in his preferred position, when Vermeulen was
ruled out of the closing Test against Wales as it fell outside the designated
window period and he had to return to Toulon duties.
Du Preez was
promising enough, rather than earth-shattering, as the Boks lost 24-22 to a
greatly weakened Welsh combination. He made some strong tackles and
demonstrated one skilful inside pass on attack.
missed that Springbok tour, as Jean-Luc inconveniently injured his ankle in the
Currie Cup final against Western Province in the immediate lead-up, meaning he could
not add to his 10 Test caps (though still only two starts so far).
planets may be aligning for them to go about their robust work together in
national colours, even if purists might harbour certain fears over Bok
creativity and elusiveness levels among the loosies if the brawny specimens
crack the nod at seven and eight.
But there is
still a bit of work to be done for the Sharks in the meantime, and each could
do with more ticks than crosses over the next couple of weekends in Erasmus’s
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