Forwards coach Deon Davids believes that the two Du Preez twins — Jean-Luc and Dan — are finally playing to the immense potential they showed as schoolboys at Kearsney College and has suggested the Springboks have England to thank for that.
Both the player himself and Bok coach at the time Rassie Erasmus made no secret of the improvements that scrumhalf Faf de Klerk made to his game after swapping the Emirates Lions jersey with English club rugby side Sale Sharks.
That hurt England in the World Cup final in Yokohama, and the British and Irish Lions could be hurt by a similar effect on the growth of the two former Sharks stars, who as it turns out are now playing with De Klerk for the Sale Sharks.
“I was privileged to work with both Jean-Luc and Dan when they were national under-20 players and they were already quality rugby players then,” said Davids, who has taken over from Matt Proudfoot as the Bok forwards coach subsequent to the World Cup.
“They are both good lineout forwards and strong ball-carriers, they give you momentum and they are also good at stopping the opposition team’s momentum. But I think in Europe the experience of playing against quality international players week in and week out has really grown both of them.
“They grew a lot in the sense of getting themselves involved in lots of battles around the park. In terms of execution, they both have very high work rates and there is a lot of versatility available in terms of how they are used in the lineouts.
“That brings an extra dimension that could be invaluable to us. It is fantastic to see them making that step up and now playing to their ability.”
While Dan, who played most of his rugby for the Sharks as a No. 8 but ironically was considered a potential lock by Gary Gold when he was coaching the Durban franchise, was included in the 46-man Bok squad now building up for the Lions series as a loose-forward, Jean-Luc was named as a utility forward.
However, Davids lumped both of them together when he spoke about their versatility and what their potential ability to play both second and back row could do for the Bok chances of beating the Lions in the forthcoming series.
“It is good to have players with that utility value and versatility in your squad. Jean-Luc has played at lock in England and Dan is a very good lineout forward, and we also have Pieter-Steph du Toit as a loose-forward with very good lineout ability,” said Davids.
“It will be useful to have players like that to call on if there are injuries at lock.
“I suppose, in terms of that, the biggest challenge might come when we have problems with guys who run the lineout.
“If Lood de Jager is not available, we will need guys like Franco Mostert, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Marvin Orie to step in.
“But obviously with the Du Preez twins and Rynhardt Elstadt we have players who can do a good job if asked to step into the No. 4 lock role and it is really useful to have guys like that in the squad.”
The Bok camp in Bloemfontein has swelled subsequent to the final local Rainbow Cup games this past weekend, with all the South African-based players now in camp and working towards the common goal of winning the once in every 12-year iconic series against the touring Lions.
With the South African-based and Japanese-based players now together, it is just the European-based players who need to be added in the coming week for the Boks to be at full complement.