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Why Dan du Preez is the natural successor to Francois Louw

Dan du Preez may have left South African rugby for the Sale Sharks, but the Springboks would be foolish not to consider the versatile loose forward.

Du Preez has been deployed at number eight by Sale with his brother Jean-Luc holding down the number six jersey in the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership. Still, he has the same versatility as retiring ‘Bomb squad’ member Francois Louw.

Dan Du Preez has the versatility

With Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit both still in their prime, the Springbok number 8 jersey is the one Du Preez will have his eye on, he could also have a massive impact coming off the bench.

If the Springboks intend to continue deploying a 6-2 forwards/backs split it puts Du Preez in pole position to assume Louw’s role off the bench. Louw prefers the side of the scrum over the number eight role, but both he and Du Preez are capable of playing anywhere in the backrow.

The Sharks 2019 Super Rugby campaign wasn’t the most impressive in the franchise’s history, it would have been much worse were it not for Du Preez though. He almost single-handedly dragged the Durbanites into the playoffs. 

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Dan du Preez of the Sharks during the Super Rugby match between Lions and Sharks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

Du Preez carried 180 times in the 2019 Super Rugby campaign, more than any other forward in the competition and was a weapon for the Sharks on attack, finishing as the leading SA try scorer.

His size and strength meld with tremendous skills, and he puts in a big shift of defence as well. Du Preez has proven hard to shift once he gets over the ball, in the mode of Duane Vermeulen and can be a nuisance at the breakdown.

Du Preez brings a bit more on attack than Louw, but one of the Bath flanker’s greatest assets was his experience, which the young bruiser will gain as he is exposed to different rugby challenges in the Premiership and Heineken Cup.

Sale to get the most out of the bruiser

The Sale Sharks paid a pretty penny to pry the Du Preez twins from their contracts at their unaffiliated South African namesake, and if the club makes the most of their investment, it might be a boon for South African rugby.

Du Preez produced a spectacular display of his capabilities in Sale’s 28-18 on 8 November throwing out a couple of great offloads and scoring a try.

The Premiership club helped Springbok Rugby World Cup hero Faf de Klerk add a few strings to his bow, leading to the halfback’s recall by Rassie Erasmus.

Bok team management should keep a keen eye on the goings-on at the AJ Bell. The Sale Sharks have recruited a raft of capped and uncapped South African talent. Their ranks include the Du Preez twins, and their elder brother Robert, as well as Sharks teammate Akker van der Merwe, and World Cup winner Lood de Jager, who will join as soon as he recovers from a shoulder injury sustained in the triumph over England.

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