Veteran tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis hopes to add the same kind of value to the Lions as fellow “golden oldie” Schalk Brits did at the Bulls earlier this year. Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Veteran tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis hopes to add the same kind of value to the Lions as fellow “golden oldie” Schalk Brits did at the Bulls earlier this year.

Du Plessis, 37, has joined the Lions ahead of next year’s Super Rugby competition after previously playing for the Free State, the Sharks and most recently, Montpellier in France. He also collected 73 Test caps in a glittering career which saw him win the World Cup in 2007.

“I’d like to emulate what Schalk did,” said Du Plessis yesterday about the 38-year-old hooker who joined the Pretoria-based team earlier this year. Brits also went on to play for the Boks at this year’s World Cup in Japan.

The big-smiling Brits, who also played for Saracens in England, was lauded throughout this season for sharing his knowledge of the game with the younger Bulls and Bok players. Du Plessis said he, too, would like to share his experiences with the Lions players, but he insisted he’d do so only when asked.

“Schalk was always an asset for every team he played for,” said Du Plessis. “He added value and that is what I’d love to do for this Lions team. I want to work hard for them and win their respect by my actions on the field.

“Right now I’m not doing too much talking, but when I feel like I can add value or do some teaching I’ll try to do it. At the moment though they don’t need any advice from me; the recipe they’re following is working just fine and doesn’t need any changing. I’ll give my opinion only when my opinion is asked for.”

While Du Plessis said he’d enjoyed his four years playing in France, he said it was great to be back in sunny South Africa, among his own people.

“I never expected to be here (at the Lions); it’s a miracle,” said a smiling Du Plessis. “I still have an opportunity to play and an so grateful for that. As nice as France is, it’s nice to train in the sunshine, and have an opportunity to play in South Africa again, my country.

“I know we have load-shedding and the traffic lights don’t work, and I know the coal is wet, but it’s my wet coal, it’s my country, it’s my load-shedding. These are the stadiums I like and where I grew up playing my rugby. It’s lekker being back home.

“I’m grateful to the Lions for trusting me and giving me this opportunity. I know playing Super Rugby again is not going to be a Sunday picnic, and it’s all daunting right now, but I’m going to do everything in my power to repay the faith the Lions have shown in me.”

Du Plessis also shared his thoughts on the Boks’ recent World Cup triumph in Japan and he said he had no doubt when Rassie Erasmus took charge of the side last year the team would be a serious challenger in Japan.

“I’m not at all surprised the Boks won the World Cup,” said Du Plessis. “Rassie was my first coach at Free State, and he taught me so much, as a player and a person. I thought if he could do half of what he did with us (at the Free State) with the cream of South Africa then the Boks would be good.”


The Star

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