Du Preez: Don't be scared to send SA players overseas
Cape Town - Sharks coach Robert du Preez believes that sending players overseas for short stints during the South African off-season has more pros than cons.
Du Preez's sons - Jean-Luc and Rob - have returned to South Africa after loan deals with the Sale Sharks in England.
Curwin Bosch, Andre Esterhuizen, Ruan Botha and Philip van der Walt, meanwhile, have been in Japan.
While the financial incentive for the players is obviously a major drawcard, the concern is what it means for the player's long-term physical wellbeing.
Super Rugby starts in February and generally ends in August (this year is shorter due to there being no international break).
There is an international break in June, and then the Rugby Championship that runs through until October before the end of year Springbok tour to Europe.
Players who aren't in the national set-up still have the Currie Cup until late October, so there isn't much of an off-season, and practically none if a player is either on Bok duty or if he joins a European or Japanese club on loan.
The example of Jean-Luc du Preez amplifies the concern.
The 23-year-old picked up and adductor muscle injury while on duty for Sale and it means that the Sharks will be without one of their biggest weapons for three months.
It is a huge blow to their campaign before a whistle has been blown, but coach Du Preez believes that the experiences his players have had overseas will benefit them in the long run.
"Unfortunately Jean-Luc got injured, but let me tell you, it's been an unbelievable experience for them," Du Preez said.
"For Curwin, for Rob, for JL ... they will tell you. They had a fantastic time and they bring back new ideas and it's good for the coaches too.
"They make new friends and get exposed to a different lifestyle, different coaching methods and a different voice.
"I think it's fantastic and we mustn't be scared to do that all the time."
The good news for the Sharks is that, Jean-Luc du Preez aside, everyone is fit including Coenie Oosthuizen, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am.
The Sharks, quarter-finalists in 2018, get their 2019 campaign underway when they travel to Tokyo to take on the Sunwolves on February 16.