GARETH DUNCAN picks the Du Preez brothers as this week’s Schoolboy Derby stars.
Sibling combinations are becoming regular features. At the Crusaders, you have four Whitelock brothers doing well while there are five Samoan-born Tuilagi brothers playing in England and France.
On a local front, you have Springbok front-rowers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and there are twins Robert and Sias Eberoshn enjoying an impressive season at the Cheetahs. Locks Wilhelm and De Kock Steenkamp are currently plying their trade at the Cheetahs (Bulls next season) and Stormers respectively.
In the Durban suburb of Morningside, there is another family coming through the ranks. Former Springbok scrumhalf Robert du Preez’s sons, 18-year-old Robert junior and 16-year-old twins Daniel and Jean-Luc, who all feature for Kearsney’s 1st XV. Word from the Durban locals is that the Du Preez brothers have sometimes won games for their school on their own, while the trio were also influential for KZN at a respectable turnout at Craven Week in Kimberley.
The eldest Robert played scrumhalf, like his father, for most of his career. But a switch to flyhalf this season has seen a new step in his career.
‘I was lucky to have a bit of experience at flyhalf before,’ Robert told keo.co.za. ‘I played there for the U13 provincial club team in Grade 7 and in Ireland during an overseas schools exchange in Grade 10.
‘I’m really enjoying my time at flyhalf. I have more freedom and space than I would have at scrumhalf and I like playing the key role in the team, especially when it comes to attacking the gain line and creating opportunities for my team-mates.
‘In terms of my brothers, Daniel plays lock and Jean-Luc is a loose forward. It’s funny story actually because they’re both forwards and bigger than me, even though I’m the oldest. I guess they got the good genes!’
Daniel stands at 1.94m and weighs 96kg while Jean-Luc is 1.93m tall and 100kg heavy. Robert steps in at 1.84m and 85kg.
‘He’s the oldest, but sometimes my brother and I will gang up on him,’ jokes Daniel. ‘Making the Kearsney 1st XV and KZN Craven Week team has really been a surprise for us. It’s been a big step up from U15A level, but we’ve adapted. It’s been physical, but we’re coping.’
‘It can be seen as uncool to be hanging out with your younger Grade 10 brothers at school, but we do spend a lot of time together, especially on the rugby field and at home,’ continues Robert. ‘My brothers have won the respect of the older boys at Kearsney because of their performances this year.
‘Away from the field, we will just spend lots of family time together and we enjoy watching and talking rugby. We all believe Pat Lambie will be a Springbok superstar. We’ve also watched our dad’s old Bok games on ESPN. That’s been nice to see because we were too young to watch him play live.’
Robert was one of the shock exclusions from this year’s SA Schools teams this year, but there’s still a chance for the twins to make it in the next two years.
‘It was disappointing. He was one of the better flyhalves at Craven Week,’ says Daniel. ‘The fact that he doesn’t kick for goal might’ve given the other 10s the edge, but he’ll work hard on it and take that responsibility in future. I’m hoping Jean-Luc and I can make the SA Schools side in future.’
So is there pressure on them to play senior rugby like their father one day?
‘Surprisingly not. My dad gives us advice and tells us to try our best, but there’s no pressure on us playing pro rugby one day,’ says Robert. ‘I hope it happens though. I’m joining the Sharks Academy next year, so I can study too. I’m sure my brothers will want to do the same when they reach this stage.’
‘We probably will,’ adds Daniel. ‘Robert has set the path and we want to follow. It will be cool if we could all make the Sharks side one day.’