Du Preez ‘happy to help’ Boks

2012-05-09 00:00

SPRINGBOK scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who is playing his rugby in Japan, confirmed for the first time yesterday that he would be available for the Tests against England next month but says local players should be preferred.

The 30-year-old Du Preez, considered the leading scrumhalf in world rugby and highly-regarded by new Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, has reportedly been in sublime form playing for his Japanese club Suntory.

In an attempt to end the speculation surrounding his international future, Du Preez and his club yesterday released a statement indicating that he would be available for selection “if needed”.

The Japanese club said they would not stand in his way but the diplomatic Du Preez said he was “open to assist the Springboks if called upon in a crisis and happy to work with the younger players as a mentor”.

Japan head coach Eddie Jones, who was Jake White’s assistant with the Springboks at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, believes Meyer should involve Du Preez. “I know that if Heyneke needs him, he will find Fourie’s support invaluable and we at Suntory have no intention of standing in the way of him during the series against England.”

Du Preez, choosing his words carefully, said that South African-based players should be preferred at Springbok level but added that he would be available for selection.

“I do believe that players that play locally should get preference,” he said. “I’m well aware that we have a wealth of talented scrumhalves and particularly in Francois Hougaard, whose time has now come.

“It’s time for the next generation to step up and I’m happy to help play a role if the coach calls on me.”

He said he had been fortunate to have played during a highly successful era in South African rugby.

“I’d be happy to share my experiences with the next generation of South African rugby talent and I thank everyone at Suntory for granting permission to do so. That said, my contract with the club ends in March 2013 and I intend to show them the same commitment I did to the Bulls and the Boks throughout my career.”

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