Dan du Preez: SA's hardest S15 grafter?
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - If
Springbok squad places were heavily influenced by Super Rugby player
statistics, then Sharks No 8 Dan du Preez ought to be close to a shoe-in for
selection for the condensed 2019 Rugby Championship starting in July.
fairly advanced stage of ordinary season, the big loose forward is close to the
top of several categories in the franchise-based competition, including being
the premier South African in some of them.
already know from both 23-year-old Dan and his twin brother and blindside flank
Jean-Luc is that they aren’t the flashiest of forwards, usually more renowned
for bruising activity at close quarters.
eighth-man has been especially, strikingly industrious for the Sharks so far as
they advance to within five matches of completing their initial roster and
being in a good position to clinch a playoffs berth.
fifth overall at present, and will attempt against the labouring Chiefs on
Saturday (09:35 SA time) to complete a three-match Australasian tour unbeaten:
they have already beaten the Waratahs and earned a fighting 21-21 draw with
defending champions the Crusaders.
Du Preez put
up a highly credible showing in the exciting stalemate in Christchurch, where
he was directly up against the home side’s in-form All Black veteran and legend
collectively worked their socks off to earn the mild-surprise outcome, and the
Durban-born combatant was in his own element as a result; yeoman graft has
featured pleasingly on his CV, campaign-long.
feat might be considered a bit of a indictment of South African teams’ overall
lack of an attacking spark this season - especially in backline terms - Du
Preez is currently the country’s leading try-scorer in Super Rugby with six,
placing him equal ninth competition-wide and the lone player from our shores in
the top 10 of the category.
But his more
renowned hallmarks lie in other areas, and the No 8 lies second, for instance,
only to the Reds’ midfield powerhouse Samu Kerevi (154) for most carries - he
boasts 126 of his own.
is ranked outside the top 10, Du Preez has also been doing more than his bit on
the tackle front, where his reported tally of 95 places him second in a SA
context only to Bok flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit (113, and fifth equal
measure, he is joint-sixth for most offloads with 13, smack alongside fellow
best-ranked compatriots Dillyn Leyds of the Stormers and the Lions’ stalwart
fullback Andries Coetzee.
heavyweight figure Duane Vermeulen is rightly still considered the head of the
Bok pecking order at eighth-man, and popular, roaming-style Lions captain
Warren Whiteley will also challenge strongly again once he can put a mini-spate
of injury setbacks behind him shortly, Du Preez (112kg, 1.97m) is the closest
to a like-for-like, viable alternative physically to Vermeulen of the
home-based players in the position.
He has only
turned out once in the green and gold jersey since Rassie Erasmus assumed the
head coach role last year, earning a fourth cap overall as he began at No 8 in
the experimental once-off against Wales in Washington DC in early June.
were edged out 22-20 in the relatively low-value exercise, and none of starting
loosies Du Preez, Kwagga Smith or Oupa Mohoje, for varying reasons, have
featured prominently again under Erasmus’s tenure subsequently.
Sharks man certainly has age well on his side for a recall to the Test picture
in 2019 and beyond, especially if he keeps up his consistently admirable work
ethic one tier down ...
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