Cape Town - He is without a doubt one of the most recognisable faces on the international Sevens circuit, but that description doesn’t do Branco du Preez any justice. And there’s a very good reason for that.
You see, he possesses electrifying speed, he has skill and power, and those traits have helped him become one of the stalwarts in the Springbok Sevens squad.
He boasts the most points scored in Neil Powell’s experienced outfit, with 874 points, and he’s done so in 45 tournaments.
It all started at PW Botha College for the George-born speedster. His performances for PW Botha earned him a call-up to the South Western Districts side who played at the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week tournament in 2006.
Du Preez then joined the Harmony Sports Academy in Welkom, which made him eligible to represent the Griffons. He went on to represent them at Craven Week, in both 2007 and 2008, and he also featured for the U19 side in the Provincial Championships in 2007 and 2008.
He then packed his bags for Pretoria, where he made three appearances for the TUT Vikings in the 2009 Varsity Cup, before boosting the Blue Bulls U19 squad in the 2009 Provincial Championship.
He would go on to represent the Baby Boks at the 2010 World Rugby Junior Championship in Argentina, and soon after, big things started to happen for Du Preez.
He joined the Blitzboks in 2010 and made his debut at the Wellington leg of the 2009-10 World Sevens Series. Du Preez would become a regular on the circuit over the next few years.
But the attacking catalyst’s most memorable outings were arguably during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he helped his country to a 17-12 victory over bitter rivals and four-time winners New Zealand to win gold.
Then, of course, there was South Africa’s bronze medal that they won at the Rio Olympics in August.
And now Du Preez should be amped to get some early World Series action this weekend, as he missed out on the first two legs in Dubai and Cape Town last year due to injury.
He underwent corrective surgery on his shoulder and was ruled out until the end of last year.
Now, fully recovered, there’s no reason why the clever playmaker can’t boost the Blitzboks’ chances of a good start in Dubai.
And since he missed out last year, it’s a certainty that he’ll bring his characteristic best in the United Arab Emirates today and tomorrow.