In typical fashion, Fourie du Preez has deflected attention away from the wonderful achievement of playing 50 Tests for the Springboks.
Du Preez has been in sublime form for the Springboks and stands as the pre-eminent scrumhalf in world rugby and the fulcrum of his side. On Saturday he joins an elite group of players to have played a half century of Tests, but the media-shy Du Preez was reluctant to discuss the milestone.
‘It’s nice to get to my 50th Test – it’s six years on, but it’s not about me. I would never have arrived here without my team-mates. However, I’m very happy that I made it this far,’ he said.
Du Preez is far more comfortable speaking about technical issues in the game. He is renowned as an astute tactician with a sharp rugby brain. For this reason the incessant criticism of the Springboks’ kick-chase approach vexes him.
‘We do whatever works. We can shift the ball to the wings, counter-attack or launch hanging kicks,’ Du Preez said.
‘I don’t really care what people say about the way we play the game. We are probably going to lose a few games playing like this, but I believe we will win more.
‘Like my previous Bulls coach, Heyneke Meyer, I believe there are two kinds of rugby – winning rugby and losing rugby. Wings no longer run around the last line of defence in Test rugby, but we saw JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana score lovely tries after running through the middle against the British and Irish Lions.
‘We don’t make the laws, that is someone else’s problem. Our challenge is to adapt to the laws. Last year the Bulls were slow to learn, but this year we adapted really well. Now it was a question of who could adapt the quickest to the latest changes.’