Full circle career for Du Plessis

Date published: July 8 2015

Petrus du Plessis has had quite a journey since he moved his career to England, which led to his inclusion in the World XV side 14 years later.

The South African-born front-row started playing rugby from a young age in Hermanus when he was spotted as a big physical prop who dominated at scrum time. His physical appearance was noticed by selectors from a young age which led to his inclusion in the provincial team. 

"I played through the school ranks and represented Boland U16 and U18 which resulted in an opportunity to play for Western Province U19 the following year," he said.

The 34-year-old played for the University of Stellenbosch alongside Schalk Brits and Ernst Joubert before he decided to move to England to further his rugby career back in 2001. 

"I was 20 when I went over to England and played third division rugby and within a year I moved up to the Championship and played for a team called Orrell in a five-to-six year span, which is why I made the choice to study while I played semi-professional rugby."

The tighthead studied physiotherapy and after juggling his studies and rugby for six years he finally earned his degree and that's where things turned around for the Premiership winner.

"I received my degree in physiotherapy and from there was offered a full-time contract to play for Nottingham in a very short space of time but luckily I was signed by Brendon Venter when they sort of reinvented Saracens. This coming season will be my seventh at Saracens."

He made his debut in 2010 for Saracens but only really reached his peak in 2014 and 2015 when he won the Premiership with them.

"This year has been a significant year for me. I've started all the games in the European Cup and started in most of the Premiership games, which we won," he added.

Du Plessis always wanted to play professional rugby in South Africa but never had the opportunity. However he will come close when the World XV face the Boks on Saturday. 

"It's been a good journey. It's gone sort of full circle coming back to Cape Town playing against the team that you always supported as a youngster and to play them at Newlands is just phenomenal and a privilege," he said.

The Premiership winner is looking forward to the challenge against the Boks and feels it will be a great test of his character to face-off against the second best team in the world.

"Whenever you play, whether you're a youngster or in your prime… you want to improve, and that is why you have to test yourself against the best, and that's what I'm looking forward to this weekend."