Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids says the Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Dan, have made a noticeable step up in their play while featuring for England club Sale Sharks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The Boks recently unveiled an enlarged 46-man squad for the upcoming Georgia Tests and British & Irish Lions series, with the Du Preez brothers earning inclusion along with three of their Sale Sharks teammates.
Jean-Luc has 13 Tests caps to his name (three starts), but last played for the Boks in the mid-year series against England back in June 2018.
His twin brother Dan also returns to the Bok set-up after an extended absence, with the abrasive No 8 having played his fourth Test in the one-off game against Wales in 2018, while his three other international appearances came in 2017.
Just this past weekend, the back-row duo were in action for Sale, with Dan making 12 carries, 36 metres, six passes, two offloads and nine tackles, while Jean-Luc – playing at lock – made 50m from 10 carries, one offload, one clean break and nine tackles.
There is no doubt that the twins benefited from the decision to swap one Sharks team for another in 2018, with the duo leaving their home town of Durban to join Sale in England, where they have matured into far more well-rounded loose forwards.
Although the schoolboy and Junior Springbok stars have always been blessed with immense athleticism and physicality, their decision-making and work rate have clearly improved in recent seasons, while they appear to have learned to pick and choose the correct moments to dominate the collisions.
‘I don’t have to chase things unnecessarily and there is a balance to be found because things happen so quickly on the field and you have a split second to make a decision,’ Jean-Luc recently explained in an interview.
‘I need to work on the “next job” mentality and if you make a mistake you then give 100% effort in the next thing and we have spoken as a group about not thinking about what has happened, because you are not going to change the referee’s decision. It is in the past.’
Davids, who spoke to the media from the team base on Monday, said the Springbok coaches had certainly noticed the progression of the highly regarded loose forwards, earning them recalls to the national set-up.
‘I’ve worked with them at U20 level, they are quality rugby players, big and physical. They are also lineout forwards, ball-carriers, strong in contact and can both stop and give momentum.
‘With them playing Europe against quality opponents week in and week out, I think they have improved a lot in terms of upping their work rate, getting involved in battles, execution, versatility and how they are used in the lineouts.
‘They offer us different dimensions, and it’s fantastic to see them making that step up and playing to their ability, so we’re looking forward to having them join us.’
Meanwhile, Davids also endorsed Siya Kolisi, who has completed his most recent domestic duties with the Sharks.
‘Siya and I, and the rest of the forwards, have been talking a lot about the fundamentals and technical stuff in terms of their performances over the past competitions.
‘I think with Siya coming back and playing for the Sharks, you can see clear improvements in recent weeks in terms of the his play both with and without the ball. In today’s session, it was fantastic to see him adding that experience and continuing to grow his approach. He’s a core part of the whole pack of forwards going forward.’