Branco du Preez has described the Blitzboks’ extraordinary 29-24 Cup final win over Fiji in Los Angeles as one of the most phenomenal victories of his career.
With South Africa trailing by seven in the dying moments of the match, coach Neil Powell turned to Du Preez, who replaced Selvyn Davids.
It turned out to be an inspired substitution, as the 29-year-old Du Preez made all the difference.
He showed all his experience when he powered through a double tackle to score, bringing the Blitzboks within two on the scoreboard. He then kept his nerve to effortlessly nail the touchline conversion to draw his team level and send the match into extra time, where the sudden-death rule applies.
True to form, South Africa would retain possession from their own kick-off and score to complete a memorable comeback. Even for Du Preez, who is South Africa’s most-capped player in the World Series, it was one of the most special performances he has been involved in.
‘This is my 74th tournament for the team and to finish it the way we did and on my favourite stop of the World Series was special indeed,’ he said.
‘What makes this more special is the number of young players in the squad experiencing that winning feeling and showing a great appetite to play for this team.
‘It is great for our system that the young guys are coming through so impressively as this also heats up the competition for selection. You need to deliver your best all the time if you want to be around this year.’
Reflecting on his definitive play that revived his team’s hopes in the contest, Du Preez says he just went for it.
‘Thinking back about the try, when I saw the tryline I just decided to go for it. I was very happy when I scored. The same with the conversion. You train for moments like this and you never know when it will be needed.
‘I am just happy that it worked out nicely for me and the squad.’
HIGHLIGHTS: South Africa win a blockbuster final against Fiji
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