Cape Town - Stormers and Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez believes his experience with the Barbarians has benefitted his game on and off the field.
Du Preez was one of nine South African-born players called up to the Barbarians squad for their November fixtures. The 23-year-old started all three matches during an unbeaten run against South Africa (31-31 draw), the Czech Republic (71-0 win) and Fiji (40-7 win).
Du Preez said it was a great experience playing in foreign conditions.
“It was a privilege and an honour to have the opportunity to play for Barbarians, which is a famous and respected rugby club in the global game,” Du Preez told MyPlayers. “I learned so much during my time with the Barbarians as I got to meet various internationals. Their different perspectives gave me many more insights, which will help me become a better player. Many new friendships were made on tour, which will last a lifetime.
“The match against the Springboks was a special one. I got to play against so many familiar faces and prove myself on a big stage at Wembley Stadium. The Fiji victory was also great, despite the difficult weather in Belfast.
“The game in Prague against the Czech Republic was awesome as I was part of a special rugby experience. It was the biggest rugby match to be played over there, with thousands in attendance. It was also the first rugby match to be televised in their country. We were delighted to give the crowd a good show on the day.
“So looking back, I have so many awesome memories. The Barbarians experience made me appreciate rugby so much more.”
Du Preez struggled with injury earlier this year, which forced him to miss most of the Super Rugby campaign. However, he’s working on hard during the pre-season to ensure he enters the new season in top shape.
“It was disappointing missing out on so many weeks, but I’m confident I will come back stronger next year,” said Du Preez. “As a team, we’re working hard during pre-season training and things are looking good so far.
“We’re a young Stormers squad going into the 2017 campaign as we’ve lost a few senior guys in recent years, like Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger, but we have so much talent in the team and we’re backing ourselves to do well next season.”
Du Preez has a strong family connection in South African rugby as his younger twin brothers Jean-Luc and Dan (both loose forwards), as well as his father Robert senior (head coach) are involved at the Sharks.
He said the family is very proud of Jean-Luc’s recent achievements, which includes a Springbok call-up and receiving the Players’ Player of the Year Award, presented by MyPlayers.
“Jean-Luc has enjoyed an outstanding season and he deserves all the rewards coming his way. As a family, we’re proud of him and we hope he gets his opportunity to prove his worth in a Springbok jersey real soon,” said Du Preez.
He added that the Du Preez family will be spending quality time together in Italy over the festive period.
“I’ll be getting some time off from 15 December. I’m excited to catch up with the family and spend some quality time together,” said Du Preez. “We’ve planned a great family trip to Italy, which is exciting. We’ll be ending the year on a great note before focusing on rugby again next year.”
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