Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez’s imposing form for the Sales Sharks will be rewarded with a Springboks recall when Jacques Nienaber names his first Springboks squad this weekend.
The Du Preez brothers have been huge for most of the season and on occasion even colossal in their performances.
Both brothers played for the Springboks in the early stages of Erasmus’s Springboks coaching tenure in 2018, but neither made it to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The duo, since trading the (Durban) Sharks for Manchester’s (Sale) Sharks have consistently improved. They’ve added rugby EQ to their obvious natural strengths.
Jean-Luc has been used as a lock and flank and this versatility could make him invaluable for the three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions, especially with lock specialists Lood de Jager and RG Synman unlikely to recover in time for the much anticipated showdown with the Lions.
His game is ideally suited to become the newest member of the famed ‘Bomb Squad’, which was the replacement’s bench used by Erasmus at the World Cup, where he picked six forwards and two backs, instead of the traditional five forwards and three backs split.
Jean-Luc in 2020 played 1820 minutes and in 2021 has played 1275 minutes. He has primarily been a starting option for Sale in both years and his versatility is such that in 2020 he was used extensively as a lock in his 27 matches and in 2021, in his 18 matches, most of them have seen him start in the No 6 and No 8 jersey.
Dan du Preez, in 2021, has played 1234 minutes and he has started exclusively at No 8. In 2020, he played 1927 minutes and started all of his matches at No8. He has formed a potent No 8/9 pairing with Springboks scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
Erasmus, in his guise of National Director of Rugby, will be as present with the Springboks as he was when he coached the team to World Cup success. He confirmed to the media that he would physically be with the squad when they assembled for the pre-international season camp in Bloemfontein.
It is good news for South African rugby supporters that Erasmus will be there to nurture and guide Nienaber in his introduction to the role of head coach. What favours a success story is that Nienaber has worked in tandem with Erasmus as his 2IC and defensive coaching specialist.
The Du Preez brothers and Leicester’s Jasper Wiese will also have plenty knowledge of the Lions players, having fronted them in the Premiership and European competitions. Marcell Coetzee, released early from Ulster to join the Bulls, is another loose-forward who will be in the Bok frame.
Nienaber is likely to start the season’s first international against Georgia with his 2019 World Cup final loose-trio of captain Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen, but the squad depth is very encouraging with the Du Preez brothers, Coetzee, Wiese and Bulls flanker Marco van Staden.
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