DURBAN – Robert du Preez jun, who is in a healthy competition with Curwin Bosch to see who will don the Sharks’ No 10 jersey for this season, may have picked up a bit of an edge while the rest of his team were relaxing over the summer holidays.
While the majority of the Sharks side were taking time off after Currie Cup, Robert and his brother Jean-Luc were contracted briefly to another Sharks team, that of Sale, near Manchester in England.
Du Preez was a big asset for the Sale side as they took full advantage of his skill-set, playing him at flyhalf as often as possible.
Many will argue that this kind of extra rugby affects player negatively in terms of their needed rest, but there is a lot to be said plying one’s trade and succeeding on foreign soil.
“I learnt a lot in the way the northern hemisphere teams play – how they attack teams and unpick defences,” said Du Preez.
“I felt the defence experience was useful because the defensive systems up there are really strong. General play is obviously a bit slower than Super Rugby because the defences are so good.
Hopefully, I can apply that this season.”
Du Preez’s trip up north does mean he didn’t rest much, but he insists he feels “really refreshed”, and now understands why an increasing number of local players are taking up short-term contracts in England before coming back for the new season.
“I really enjoyed it. I’m always a guy who’s keen to try new things. If it were up to me, I’d encourage every player to do so. It broadens your horizons. You learn different things from new people,” he added.
“Sometimes you’re even learning the exact same things that you already know, but just hearing it from a new voice makes you listen again.”
Du Preez could well be the man at No 10 this weekend when the Sharks play the Blues in their first home game after he led the side admirably in Singapore from the pivot position.
Durban, are you ready for #OurSharks first home game of the Vodacom @SuperRugby 2019 season? The boys are raring to go and ready to feed at the tank!🏟— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) February 21, 2019
Get behind our boys and get your tickets at the stadium or https://t.co/R3Azz6O8Hr 🎫#SHAvBLU #OurSharksForever🦈 pic.twitter.com/lXYGXwqaxk
Du Preez was also faultless with the boot, and marshalled the troops well, so it will be interesting to see how the flyhalf goes as the season progresses.
The Sharks have a potent backline, with the centres, André Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am building a good partnership, and the excitement on the wings palpable with Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi.
It also means that there is space for Bosch at 15, to add his own incredible ball-in-hand ability, should the Sharks stick with a more mature and learned Du Preez at No 10.@DarrynJack216