Oh brother, where art though?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 16 Jan 2017 at 12:42
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

It’s 26 November 2016 in Cardiff and a hulking blonde back-rower waits patiently aside the Millennium Stadium pitch, anxious to shed his bottle green tracksuit and grasp his opportunity to take an already stellar career to the next step. This is the moment he’s been waiting for all his young life and while the result may not have gone his way, those few minutes on the park are something that can never be taken away – and are surely the start of a long and successful career as a test player. His name is Jean-Luc du Preez and he’s Springbok number 881.

Supporting him from the stands are his loving and close-knit family. Many have taken big strides in rugby this year, with older brother Robert having turned in a big performance for the Barbarians a few weeks before and father Rob Senior confirmed as the Sharks’ new Head Coach for Super Rugby 2017 and beyond. A good year, all-in-all, for the du Preez clan, but for one member in particular, I wonder how much of a tinge of frustration there may have been to go with the joy of Jean-Luc’s first cap. Twin brother Daniel – from whom Jean-Luc has been inseparable since birth and who tends to stride the rugby turf like a colossus alongside his slightly smaller brother- is far too good a sibling to ever experience an emotion quite as petty as jealousy, but must surely have felt some sense of disappointment that he could not be there too, achieving this incredible milestone together with his twin.

So what happened? Well, an injury, of course – that’s the most sensible and logical explanation. Both twins began the previous season as starting options for the Sharks, one at blindside and one at number 8, but while Jean-Luc went on to absolutely cement his position in the number 7 jersey throughout Super Rugby and the Currie Cup, Daniel struggled for consistency and ended up missing the latter half of the year entirely due to a persistent groin injury. One feels that even despite this setback, the stars have aligned rather differently for the two and even at full fitness, Daniel’s path to greatness remains somewhat steeper.

The Sharks’ options at blindside have thinned dramatically in recent years, to the extent that cover has had to be brought in in the form of Jacques Vermeulen and one feels that Jean-Luc surely must be an unchallenged fist-choice in the position, unless Jean Deysel undergoes something of a miraculous renaissance. Number 8 is far trickier, with the frankly phenomenal Philip van der Walt a must-pick in the position and Tera Mtembu offering a compelling alternative option for coach du Preez. Mtembu himself has a fair bit of work to do after a nightmare run with injury over the past few seasons, but the fact remains that while Jean-Luc is virtually unopposed as a starter, Daniel has significant work to do to establish himself as a first-choice at the back of the scrum just at provincial level – before any thought of higher honours becomes realistic. Another factor making his journey harder is length of time in the position. While his brother has been a flanker from the get-go, Daniel operated at lock (and very successfully) for much of his school career, before a move to number 8 relatively late as he stopped growing taller.

There’s a school of thought that would advocate a move back to the second row, an area where the Sharks are short of players with real mongrel and aggression. I’ve always been against that, myself, feeling that Daniel du Preez would concede just that little bit too much in height at the front of the line-out against monsters like Jason Jenkins at the Bulls or Eben Etzebeth at the Stormers. Daniel is never going to be a 2m+ 120kg monster and one feels that if he wants to become a test player, those are the kind of 4-locks he’s going to be compared to. Could he be a good player in the position? Sure…. but world class? Perhaps that’s a bit more of a stretch.

Is it unfair to say he is, consequently, at risk of always being a utility “stop gap”, not quite tall enough to make it as a top class lock, but lacking a little in the skills and pace department as a loose forward? It’s a tough question and one that, I’d say, it’s far too soon to answer definitively. The key thing, here, is to emphasise that Daniel is already doing phenomenally well for such a young player and perhaps we do a disservice to his own achievements if we seek to always compare him to his brother? South African rugby is littered with stories of twins whose careers do not always move in lock step and perhaps this is just another of those.

Whatever he decides to do, position wise, I’m wishing Daniel du Preez a stellar 2017 season and that all starts with better luck on the injury front. I know that whatever unfolds, the one thing this player will not lack is an abundance of support and love, not only from his father and brother who spend every day with him at the Sharks, but also from everyone else in the team and the entire fan base. Go get ’em, Vrieskas…. the only way is up!


  • Out of the box thought here but perhaps he should focus on developing as an openside flanker? We don’t really have a ‘banker’ in that position at the moment.

  • Comment 1, posted at 16.01.17 13:14:02 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 1) : Not the worst idea. Some would say he is too tall for that though

  • Comment 2, posted at 16.01.17 13:27:43 by SheldonK Reply

  • If Rob senior does good and regular rotation of the squad then there is no reason for Dan not to get regular game time. With proper rotaion he doesn’t have to unseat anybody to prove himself.

  • Comment 3, posted at 16.01.17 13:50:16 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 2) : Poor guy can’t catch a break, too short or too tall πŸ˜€

  • Comment 4, posted at 16.01.17 14:13:07 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Im backing them, Chilliboy, Coenie and Reinach to have big seasons. Holding thumbs Ward is the real deal

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.01.17 14:57:05 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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    West Indies Cricket Board
  • @vanmartin (Comment 4) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 6, posted at 16.01.17 15:11:33 by SheldonK Reply

  • Can’t the twins just be rotated on the blindside?

    Both are physical players and imagine the continued destruction if you take one off and replace him with his twin.

    It would also prolong their careers.

  • Comment 7, posted at 16.01.17 15:57:47 by ChrisS Reply
  • @ChrisS (Comment 7) : U could indeed. Just where to fit other 7s such as Deysel, Mthembu, Vermuelen…

  • Comment 8, posted at 16.01.17 16:06:22 by SheldonK Reply

  • Nice article, Rob. Good luck to the twins for this year…

  • Comment 9, posted at 16.01.17 16:36:08 by pastorshark Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) : Deysel hasn’t shown much in the last few seasons, his unfortunate injuries really took a toll on his career, great talent and attitude, but unfortunately injury prone. Mthembu can cover 6 and 8 as well, I would not call him an out and out 7. Vermuelen is new at the Sharks and has to prove himself for a shot.

  • Comment 10, posted at 16.01.17 16:38:30 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 10) : look, one thing I must say is that Mtembu might actually prove to be more useful at 6 than at 8. I feel that the obsession with a “fetcher” at 6 is waning and Tera could certainly prove useful as a 6 in the mold of Keegan Daniel

  • Comment 11, posted at 16.01.17 16:41:05 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 11) : Completely agree, just in this thread, he has been pushed as a 7 and an 8 but only you and I have considered him at 6 (in this thread). Hope he has an injury free year, and has managed to retain his pace through all his injuries.

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.01.17 17:32:56 by Dancing Bear Reply
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    Dancing Bear
  • A healthy rotation between the twins at 7, along with Dan and the Ginger Ninja at 8, then Keegs and Tera at 6, would in my opinion, be incredibly effective for the Sharks, and hopefully keep all players involved and not overworked.

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.01.17 17:37:16 by Dancing Bear Reply
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    Dancing Bear
  • Love the article title, Rob! Full marks for referencing one of my favorite movies (which in turn references a classic Greek epic); after that heading you could have posted a collection of sonnets written by Thelo Wakefield, and I’d still have been happy…!

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.01.17 18:03:52 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @robdylan (Comment 11) : I’m with you on Dan playing lock but have mixed feelings about a fetcher. Yes the days of a specialist that only compete at rucks and do nothing much else is over. However there is still a need for a fast mobile loosie that put pressure on opposition ball at rucks whilst making tackles and running with the ball much like Marcell. So yes Terra can work at 6 if he can adapt a bit.

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.01.17 18:13:26 by JD Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 8) : IMO guys like Jean, although a I like him has had his chance to cement the position. So it’s time to make the call and give the next guy the shot instead of worrying what to do with Jean. Time to move on. Sorry.

  • Comment 16, posted at 16.01.17 18:40:35 by coolfusion Reply

  • @Culling Song (Comment 14) : Well played… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 17, posted at 16.01.17 18:59:05 by pastorshark Reply
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  • if your coaching staff embraces modern ethos of proper player monitoring/management both physical and mental then we should have enough game time for all player

    bit of a concern that in the cc we especially played pretty much the same players unless injury or lose of form necessitated a change

    im not saying lets have outlined rotation like brendon venter had (though that did work really well at in currie cup 2013, side note I was there at the final that year as I reside in stormer country). but it annoys me when players get played into the ground dispite travel etc

    havnt seen much about Radebe on this site of late, the concensus seem to be that he wasnt playing well toward the end of the currie cup. I feel he did really great in the currie cup, yes he started like a house on fire coming off the bench, as the season progressed his from suffered, but as a young player I thing that thisnwas the case because of what was going on around him, our scrum first started to become inconsistent (losing dale chadwick and adrianse didnt help) we lost ginger and keegs to injury etc team dissolved around the young man.

    he will probibly get some game time this year in sr, depending on the form and fitness of lambie and where bosch plays

  • Comment 18, posted at 16.01.17 19:10:34 by revolverocelot Reply

  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 5) : Oh yes, we need a good backup for Lukhanyo AM. On the topic at hand, Dan is still young and will in time have a season that will make him a Bok. He’s not that short or light if you compare him to Mostert or the England lock, Marco Iote for example. They are basically the same height and size, that’s if he decides to go back to lock. He also has a shot at 8th man and still has years ahead of him to develop his game and get more stronger and skillful. This year will however give us a clearer idea as to what the future holds for him.

  • Comment 19, posted at 16.01.17 21:19:34 by GreatSharksays Reply

  • Probably could be a good thing for both Dan’s (Kriel and du Preez) to move to other teams away from the shadow of their twins. It worked for the Ndungane brother and both can show a Springbok blazer as proof!
    Now please don’t block or shoot me!!!!
    Most important thing for Dan dP is to stay for and get game time! He’s a class player and with enough time on the field he will for sure force his way into at least the match 23.

  • Comment 20, posted at 16.01.17 21:29:28 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 20) : What are you doing?! 😯 Don’t go putting horrible ideas like that into people’s heads!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.01.17 06:26:20 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Currie Cup 2015 I thought Dan played better than JL. When 216 SR kicked off I felt Dan was still a little ahead but as the SR season wore on JL overtook his brother performance wise and with the groin injury Dan’s season just went south. I feel Dan is every bit as good as JL and hope he can prove me right in 2017. I love watching them operate in tandem. I hope Dan shows better hands and ball control this year and JL is more dominating in the tackle.

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.01.17 07:20:57 by Hulk Reply

  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 10) : @robdylan (Comment 11) : @coolfusion (Comment 16) : I fully agree with you guys regarding Jean question then is why do we keep him contracted and keep money invested in him? Surely investing in a youngster like a Jean Droste etc would be more beneficial? Secondly i love the call to play Tera at 6…i really do. He is a great ball player and think could add much more value than a Kleinhans, Majola or even Daniel to be honest. Ive heard Vermuelen is also a good 8. I think the twins play very well together so would try get them in the same 23, even if one off the bench. Really hope Ruan Botha comes good this year as he has big potential.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.01.17 08:48:22 by SheldonK Reply

  • The twins strength has always been that when they play together, they become three men, they have a natural telepathy,
    Dan is the most talented of the three brothers and he can play anywhere from 4 to 8,thiswill be his year.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.01.17 09:02:47 by The hound Reply
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    The hound
  • @The hound (Comment 24) : I hope you’re right. I want to see him established in the team and if he manages to forge a place for himself at 4 and can hold that, then so be it.

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.01.17 10:34:24 by robdylan Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 23) : Jean Deysel is a tough and tragic story. He had decided to move on from the Sharks when he went to Japan and I think all parties were happy with that decision. It represented a quite natural conclusion to what had been a very satisfactory chapter for the Sharks.

    Then his wife got cancer.

    I think you need to look at everything else that has happened since in the context of that event. It’s about a lot more than just rugby.

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.01.17 10:36:51 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 26) : Thanks for shedding some light, i had no idea on the background. Very glad the Sharks stood by him then. I know he has been working hard, a lot of crossfit to get lighter and more mobile and flexible. When fit he can be seriously good as a 6 option.

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.01.17 10:40:16 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 27) : You beat me to it. I was about to say I always thought he could make a good 6.

  • Comment 28, posted at 18.01.17 14:53:36 by Hulk Reply

  • @Hulk (Comment 28) : Provided he is fit and gets a bit more mobile as these injuries have seen him pick up too much bulk

  • Comment 29, posted at 18.01.17 15:52:06 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 29) : Indeed. My thinking of him swapping to 6 was way back in 2012 / 2013. I feel for the guy as his career has always been stunted just as he looks like he’s getting back in form.

  • Comment 30, posted at 18.01.17 16:19:31 by Hulk Reply


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