Stormers’ young Daniel living up to family name
Du Plessis is the most common surname of the 881 players who have represented the Springboks at test level, with 14 men bearing the famous last name to have played in the green and gold.
The Stormers’ 22-year-old inside centre Daniel du Plessis could add to that list in years to come after a superb start to the 2017 season‚ playing in tandem with another youngster‚ EW Viljoen.
The pair have struck up a partnership that is both wonderfully skilful and athletic‚ but also technically and tactically sound with or without the ball.
Daniel is the son of former Springbok centre Michael and the nephew of Springboks Carel and Willie du Plessis‚ who played wing and centre respectively.
Because of the family he comes from, it was almost inevitable that his path in life would involve high-level sport‚ and rugby in particular.
There is little doubt he has the genes to go far in the game, but with the positive Stormers coaching set-up that is driving a culture of excellence‚ Du Plessis is more than cashing in on the advantage that nature and nurture gave him.
He is proving to be a wall in defence with an impressive tackle success rate of 100% of the 28 tackles he has made.
Despite only playing 252 minutes out of a possible 480‚ he is in the top 10 for line breaks as well‚ with four this season.
Coming up against an All Black midfield in Stephen Donald and Anton Leinert-Brown last weekend did not faze Du Plessis at all, as he gave a superb performance to help the Stormers win 34-26.
“For both of us [he and Viljoen], it was our first time playing against a New Zealand team‚” Du Plessis said.
“It was a bit of a change for us. They played a really high-tempo game‚ which is what we expected.
“They tested us quite a lot. To have pulled it through and come out with the win was really good for our confidence.
“We’ll take a lot of learning out of that‚ especially me, EW and the young guys‚ and hopefully we can take it on to the next few games.
“We’re playing a real good brand of rugby this year and I think the challenge for us against the Chiefs was to keep playing that brand of rugby and not go back into our shells.
“That’s what we did really well and hopefully we can take it on to the next few games.”
It does not get easier for the Stormers‚ who now face the Lions at Newlands on Saturday.
Du Plessis will come up against Bok battering ram Rohan Janse van Rensburg at the weekend‚ which will provide another tough test of the youngster’s progress.
“Rohan is a really good player. He’s got his Bok cap‚ which he deserved. He had a great season last year‚” Du Plessis said.
“For me, it’s a huge challenge if I start in the 12 position again. We had them in the pre-season games and I also came up against him‚ which was really tough.
“They have a good backline and play a similar brand of rugby to the New Zealand teams. Luckily, we faced that this weekend and we had a little taste of that.”
The Stormers have injury doubts over flank Cobus Wiese (shoulder), lock Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) and Eben Etzebeth (calf), but scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is set to be given the all clear.