It’s official: Du Plessis duo head off to Montpellier
IT was always a question of where they were going but the wait is now over as the Du Plessis brothers have officially signed with French club Montpellier.
Last week was an emotional one for Bismarck and Jannie as they played their last game in front of the King’s Park faithful. The Sharks dispatched a Stormers team devoid of its stars to give the brothers as well as Willem Alberts a fitting sendoff.
This time last week, Bismarck wouldn’t reveal where he was going but the burly Bok hooker made it clear that he did not want to leave Durban — the seaside city where he has spent 11 long seasons plying his trade.
Fast forward seven days and the club now coached by former World Cup winning Bok and Sharks coach Jake White confirmed they have Jannie and Bismarck’s signatures on paper.
The news was posted on the club’s official website — but there was no real surprise there as the move was all but confirmed a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile fellow front rower Matt Stevens is becoming a bit of a journeyman. Having joined the Sharks ahead of last year’s Currie Cup, the former England and British and Irish Lions prop is also heading to France, joining European champions Toulon.
Stevens had an indifferent stay in Durban as far as his performances were concerned and his departure provides an opportunity for players like young Thomas du Toit to get more exposure to the rigours of Super Rugby next year.
Among Toulon’s most recent shopping spree was Stormers and Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen as well as former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell.
The Sharks have already seen plenty of changes this week. Director of rugby Gary Gold is moving away from directly coaching Sharks teams and assistant coach Brad Macleod-Henderson has hung up his whistle.
There are a number of new faces set to join the Union — namely Bok fullback Willie le Roux, Waratahs flank Jacques Potgieter and former Cheetahs flank Phillip van der Walt.
With so many changes afoot, Gold intends to lay down unifying playing structures that will see the Sharks’ senior and junior teams playing the same type of rugby. Gold said Saturday that the production and retention of home grown talent was crucial to the Sharks’ future.
Speculation is rife as to who will wear the coaching mantle for the Currie Cup and next year’s expanded Super Rugby competition. Word is former All Black coach John Mitchell could be a candidate at King’s Park — while former Sharks man John Plumtree is being touted as an option for the Stormers’ outgoing Allister Coetzee.
Whoever picks up the reins will undoubtedly answer to Gold but it seems as though the Sharks are firmly focused on righting the wrongs of a poor season. However, Gold is also expecting the rebuilding phase to not yield immediate results.
The Du Plessis brothers are set for a three-year stint with White in the south of France. While there were rumours that a number of Sharks players did not agree with White’s methods while he was in charge at the Shark Tank, the pair were part of his 2007 World Cup winning team. It will also make the transition to life in France easier dealing with a coach who can “praat die taal”