The news that the infamous du Plessis duo are once again peddling their wares the length and breadth of the rugby world is not really all that surprising. I’m referring, of course, to reports last week that Bismarck is in talk with Toulon. A weekend report in Beeld suggests that both brothers might rather depart for Johannesburg after the Super 14.
The brothers haven’t ever really been happy in Durban since John Smit’s return in 2008, according to the grapevine. Dark rumours of mysterious clauses in Bismarck’s contract continue to surface and it’s pretty much an “open secret” that both were aggressively pursuing a move to Pretoria last year, before Barend van Graan and his crew pulled out of the deal. Both signed two-year extensions with the Sharks, after protracted negotiations and the feeling at the time was that they’d pretty much painted themselves into a corner and had no other option.
Smit’s appointment as Sharks captain for 2010, coupled with his return to the Bok number 2 jersey last year – however temporary that may be – would appear to have pissed Bismarck off all over again. He was apparently spotted deep in agitated conversation with John Plumtree at Sharks training last week and as I mentioned above, it’s not altogether surprising to see his name linked to a big money move overseas. Bismarck du Plessis is probably the best hooker in the world right now, John’s other attributes notwithstanding and his value on the international market must be, quite frankly, staggering. The only real problem is the fact that he only ever travels with a considerable amount of baggage – in the form of his 120kg+ brother Jannie.
Now the older du Plessis brother is a steady enough tighthead and probably good value in a squad, but he certainly doesn’t offer anything more than solidity in the front row. His work rate, tackle execution and (particularly) discipline are way below par and quite frankly, having to accommodate him would make any potential suitor for Bismarck’s services have to think twice. Dick Muir, with his seemingly bottomless pot of money, would no doubt give his eye teeth to have a guy like Bismarck in his pack and given the absence of an established “star” tighthead in his line-up, would probably make a plan to accommodate Jannie as well. Given that the pair have already lost out on a Bulls move and sullied their reputations with both the Sharks and the Stormers (they’re still annoyed about the way Jannie played them off against the Sharks back in 2006), the Lions remains their only feasible option, given that Free State are never going to meet their wage demands.
But here’s the funny thing – according to the Lions fan site I just had a look at (which may or may not be a representative sample), Lions fans don’t seem to want them either! The brothers’ reputation for being prima donna’s seems so well entrenched in the mind of the larger SA rugby fan base that few seem particularly keen to have them in their team. If this site is an accurate barometer of the way Sharks fans view the latest developments, the consensus seems to be that if they aren’t happy, they must rather go somewhere else because, quite frankly, we’re tired of all the drama.
Have the DuP’s cried wolf one time too many? They are both talented players, sure, with Bismarck undoubtedly a world class athlete, but the picture that’s starting to emerge is one of a set of brothers whose egos are currently completely out of step with the rest of the SA Rugby landscape. Expect to see an announcement after the Super 14 that both have parted company with the Sharks – there can’t be this much smoke without some fire – but right now it’s anybody’s guess where they’ll end up.Tweet