03 Mar Player To Watch: Jean-Luc du Preez
The son of former Springbok Robert, Sharks backrower Jean-Luc du Preez is part of a group of young upstarts looking to take the Durban based franchise back to the pinnacle of Super Rugby.
The 21-year old du Preez made his debut for the Sharks in Round 5 2015, the then 19-year old appearing off the bench for the last ten minutes of the match and in the process becoming one of the youngest Sharks players of all time.
Du Preez, and his twin brother Daniel, who also plays for the Sharks, both attended famed Kearsney College in KwaZulu-Natal, a proven ground for future rugby stars. The twins were members of Sharks youth squads throughout their development years.
The No.8 played two years for the South African Schoolboys as well as two years for the Springbok U20’s, helping the side secure third place in Junior World Cup in 2015.
2016 was a breakout year for du Preez, establishing himself as the Sharks first choice backrower and putting in a string of impressive performances for the South African powerhouse.
du Preez’ defensive capabilities are extremely advanced for a player his age, he reads and dissects opposition attacks like a seasoned veteran. The 21-year old also has a penchant for the big hit.
du Preez also possesses a strong running game and silky skills for a forward, the 194cm backrower is able to offload with the best of them and creates plenty of opportunities for his teammates.
The youngster was a standout for the Sharks in their Round 1 clash against the Reds, scoring a try and leading the Sharks pack around the park. Despite the Sharks close loss to the Reds, du Preez can hold his head high because of his admirable performance.
After such a great 2016 at only 20 years of age, expect du Preez to take another leap during the 2017 season and put himself in the mix for Springbok selection.