Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis spoke to Jan de Koning about juggling his time between community service as a doctor, and preparing with the Sharks for a Currie Cup Final.
Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis, like the rest of the Sharks and the Blue Bulls, are preparing for the most important day on the domestic calendar – the Currie Cup Final in Durban on Saturday.
However, at the same time he has another important role to fulfil – completing his community service as a qualified doctor.
It is a fine juggling act for the 25-year-old tighthead prop, who will be a key player as the Sharks try to end their 12-year trophy drought.
But it is double duty he is performing with delight.
Speaking to rugby365.com, in the middle of a four-day stint at the military sickbay on the Bluff in Durban, Dr Du Plessis said he is hoping to transfer his impressive finals form to the Sharks – having won the Currie Cup with Cheetahs for the previous three years.
He admitted that balancing his time as a rugby player and a doctor has been a tricky act, but one he gladly performs.
“With the hectic rugby schedule I have not been working many weekends,” Du Plessis said of performing his community service.
“We have this weekend off and not playing,” he said of the extra week’s break between the semifinals and the Final, adding: “I couldn’t take time off again. I have some time to make up.”
Dr Du Plessis worked at the sickbay on Thursday night, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – before he will rejoin his Sharks teammates on Monday to start preparations for the Final.
And looking towards the Final, the six-times capped prop said he hopes to be the Sharks’ lucky charm.
“Luckily I haven’t experience the disappointment of defeat yet,” he said of his three finals with the Cheetahs – 2005, 2006 and last year.
He feels that the Sharks find themselves in a very similar situation than that in which the Cheetahs were ahead of the 2005 Final.
“It is a bunch of players who are of similar age, with a handful of very senior players like Johann Muller, Stefan Terblanche, John Smit and a Jacques Botes,” Du Plessis told rugby365.com.
“At the Cheetahs it was similar and we were just a bit younger, mostly 20- and 21-year-olds in 2005. Here at the Sharks there are a host of 22-, 23- and 24-year-old players.
“The team dynamics is very similar to what we had at the Cheetahs in 2005.
“The challenge is very similar. We are playing a Blue Bulls team that is very well balanced and that can play some seriously good rugby, no doubt it will be a tough game.”
Du Plessis also spoke of the Sharks’ determination to win their first trophy since the Currie Cup victory of 1996.
Ironically current Sharks head coach John Plumtree was a player in the team of 1996.
“It is always nice to be part of a team that really wants it badly,” Du Plessis said of the hunger that is driving the Sharks, adding: “Win or lose, there won’t be a lack of commitment from the entire team.
“The drive and hunger is there among the players, it is very similar to the determination that drove the Cheetahs in 2005.”
Apart from his juggling act between his rugby and medical careers, Du Plessis had another big adjustment to make in the past year – moving from the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein to the Sharks in Durban.
But like the good doctor he is, Du Plessis took his “medicine” and is now reaping the rewards.
“The Sharks do play a different type of game from what we did at the Cheetahs and what was successful in Bloemfontein.
“The fact that I didn’t play much in the Super 14, with BJ [Botha] still here, made it a bit more difficult to adjust initially – especially in terms of their approach.
“I understand what they expect and I have worked hard to fit in, I just hope that I can make a big contribution to the team effort and to help them win the Currie Cup,” Du Plessis added.
He is also hoping to add to his six Test caps – the first was against Australia in Sydney in 2007 and the last also against the Wallabies, in Johannesburg in August – when the team for the Springboks’ year-end tour is announced after Saturday’s Final.
With BJ Botha out of the picture, playing for Irish province Ulster, and Brian Mujati not really having lived up to expectations on the international stage, Du Plessis may emerge as the country’s first choice for the No.3 jersey.
And with the British and Irish tour looming large next year, the November trip – to Wales, Scotland and England – will be crucial; for players wanting to put down their markers.
But for now Du Plessis is just focussed on a more pressing issues – the Currie Cup Final.Tweet