Du Plessis legacy motivates Jean-Luc

    2016-04-26 09:18

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - He is the son of one of the most popular Springboks of all time and the nephew of a pair of Western Province legends, but Stormers flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis is making a name for himself at Newlands this Super Rugby season. 

    Just 21-years-old, Du Plessis has been thrown in at the deep end following injuries to Robert du Preez and Kurt Coleman and he has started the last three matches in the No 10 jersey. 

    His distribution is good, his kicking is accurate, his defence is solid and he has a shift in body weight that ever so subtly reminds of his father. 

    There is no telling how many Test caps Carel du Plessis would have ended on had he represented a South Africa that was allowed to play more international rugby. 

    The final number was 12 Tests between 1982 and 1989 - a tragedy given the quality of the man. 

    Michael and Willie du Plessis were also very popular figures at Newlands, and now rugby lovers are getting to see that lineage continue in the form of Jean-Luc. 

    He may be young, but he speaks with the maturity of a seasoned veteran. 

    In his first start against the Sunwolves, Du Plessis hacked his way down the left-hand touchline before diving over in the corner in a try that drew immediate comparisons to his father's devastating finishing from the left wing.

    "When I got home after the game we had a good laugh about it and my dad congratulated me," Du Plessis recalled.

    "But it was actually my mom that said that my father’s last try for Province was in that corner and my first try was in that corner, so it was like a fantasy.

    "My father is not one to really get swept up in the emotion. He congratulated me. He’ll tell me where I went wrong and then give me constructive criticism, which is exactly what I’m after. We have a good relationship."

    The Du Plessis legacy is something that is very real for Jean-Luc. 

    He is mindful of the rugby history in his family and what it means for a large portion of supporters, but he does not feel that there is any added pressure that comes with his name.

    "It’s obviously something that runs deep in our family. It’s something that my family and myself takes a lot of pride from," he said.

    "It’s definitely an internal motivation for me. I feel it’s definitely a benefiting factor for me more than a weight on the shoulders.

    "I feel there is some expectation but that is more created by the spectators.

    "For me personally there is no pressure from an outside point of view. If anything I feel less pressure, because I know on Friday night over a steak my father is going to talk me through the game on Saturday.

    "The only pressure I feel is internally that I put on myself. I don’t feel any extra pressure from previous bloodlines or uncles or fathers."

    Du Plessis was nearly lost to KwaZulu-Natal after he spent his first two years out of school at the Sharks Academy. 

    But once the opportunity came up to return to the Cape, he could not say 'no'.

    "I found that would be a better option for me to improve my career," Du Plessis said of his Durban move.

    "But obviously when I got the opportunity to come back down... it’s always been my dream to play for Western Province at Newlands.

    "It’s obviously been a big part of the heritage and obviously I’ve grown up here. I’ve been sitting in the stands every Saturday since I was four years old.

    "As soon as I got the opportunity to come back down I felt that it was really good timing and it made sense."

    So far, the decision appears to be the right one. 

    Du Plessis's star is shining bright. The Newlands faithful are taking to him more and more each week and if he keeps improving at this rate, then there is no telling what this talented youngster can achieve. 

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