Ailing dad keeps Bok brothers home

2013-11-28 00:00

BLOEMFONTEIN — The Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck, have known since 1998 that their father, Frans, had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

And their father’s illness is one of the major reasons that the two Springbok brothers have always turned down attractive offers from overseas rugby clubs, as was the case recently when French Toulon club approached them.

“We want to play our rugby as close to him as possible. We will blames ourselves forever if something should happen to him while we were playing rugby overseas,” says Jannie, who is a qualified medical doctor.

He admits that he and Bismarck received attractive offers earlier this year from Toulon — the same club that has contracted numerous Boks such as Bryan Habana, Juan Smith, Bakkies Botha, Joe van Niekerk, Danie Rossouw and Michael Claassens.

“But my father’s illness is in an advanced dimension. Bismarck and I have known since 1998 that it is our responsibility to ensure that everything runs smoothly with our family.

“As a result of his illness we have become a very close-knit family, so much so that it even frustrates my wife and Bismarck’s girlfriend. If there is only half a chance for Bismarck and me to go to our farm [in the Bethlehem region] we will.”

Jannie says although both brothers are very happy at the Sharks, it did not make their Toulon decision any easier. “Brendan Venter [the former Sharks director of rugby] and John Smit [Sharks CEO] had a long discussion with Bismarck and I about our future. We are really very happy in South Africa. In fact we moved from the Free State to Durban to be closer to our family home.”

As the value of rand cannot be compared with that of the euro and local rugby stars leave South Africa’s shores in droves, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) has recently tried to place the income of veterans such as the Du Plessis brothers on a par with that earned by the Boks who play overseas.

The Du Plessis brothers are two of 10 Springboks who have been offered long-term contracts until after the 2015 World Cup. The others are Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Willem Alberts, Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi and Frans Steyn.

Jannie says he has recovered from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the Springbok team that recently toured Europe.

“I have been practising hard in the gym since last week and will be ready for the start of the Super series,” he said.

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