Du Preez primed for moment of genius

Date published: October 24 2015

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Fourie du Preez is rightly regarded as one of the finest scrum-halves in the world, but he's also a statistical anomaly.

Few players in Test rugby can hold claim to a positive record against the All Blacks throughout their careers – but he can.

Du Preez has faced New Zealand 12 times and emerged with seven wins, giving him a success percentage of 58.33 per cent. That might as well be in the 90s when you consider how dominant the All Blacks have been over the last decade.

His record is no fluke. Du Preez has long been admired on a global scale for his elite rugby brain.

Sorely missed by South Africa in that horrorshow against Japan, since he returned they have not been perfect since, despite those big wins over Scotland and Samoa, but the authority that Du Preez brings into the side is invaluable – much as another win over New Zealand would be for player and country.

With his match-winning try against Wales – devised on the training ground after reviewing tape of the opposition – Du Preez revealed his genius again.

"He has always had pretty big games against them," assistant coach Johan van Graan said at Friday's press conference.

"I don't know how he is going to play tomorrow, I believe he is going to be great.

"I think he is awesome in every rugby game that he plays.

"His composure under pressure, his belief in himself, the ability to see things that others don't see – a talent hits a target no one else can hit, but a genius hits a target no one else can see. And that is Fourie du Preez."

Du Preez is not exactly a man to shower himself with similar praise – in fact the concept is probably entirely alien to him.

But his standing in sport can't be ignored, with his opposite man on Saturday, Aaron Smith, revealing how he had idolised Du Preez whilst growing up. Little separates them now in terms of quality, even with Du Preez being 33 to his rival's 26.

Age hasn't dampened his enthusiasm. For the former Blue Bulls scrum-half this will be a special occasion that he has been looking towards for some time.

"Myself and Schalk [Burger] have been in Japan [at club Suntory Goliath] since the end of November and we have been talking about this game after training quite a few times," Du Preez revealed.

"We have been looking forward to it for quite some while.

"It's pretty unbelievable for two guys at this stage, captain and vice captain, playing for the same club in Japan.

"It's a massive, massive game, the biggest game of my life and Schalk's life and we have been around for a bit."

A stage made it seems for another moment of brilliance. Win or lose, Du Preez has set a new standard when it comes to being a top international scrum-half.

Plus if this proves to be his final Test against the Springboks' old rival, he'll always have a winning record over the All Blacks.

by Ben Coles

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