Jean-Luc likes being ‘out of the box’


But perhaps more importantly, the 21-year-old Stormers pivot made a vital point about his success in the No 10 jersey over the last few weeks – the fact that his coaches encourages him to play his natural style rather than stick rigidly to a game plan.

Du Plessis – son of Carel – comes across as a free spirit, and it shows in his game as he is not scared to try things. And with Robbie Fleck taking the Stormers back to their traditional fundamentals of an attack-minded approach, it suits Du Plessis perfectly.

“I enjoy the running game, run the ball and get a bit of excitement for the crowd, get the bums off the seats! There is a time and a place for everything on the field, so it’s just important to get a good mix – times when you have to control the game, maybe slow it down and play more tactically,” the former SA Under-20 playmaker said.

“And there are times when you can express yourself, be free and give the ball some air. Once again, credit must go to the coaching staff – they don’t box you in, with regards to being a flyhalf.

“They allow each and every player to go and express themselves, although every player knows what is expected of them. I think it’s a very good mix at the moment.”

But the Cape side haven’t always got their execution right, and that is the key area that they need to improve upon if they hope to beat the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday (7.15pm kickoff).

The 2014 champions found their touch after a mediocre start to the season with a 49-13 dismantling of the Western Force in Perth last weekend, and with a devastating backline headed up by Wallaby halfbacks Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley, as well as lethal strike-runners Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau at centre, the Stormers will be seriously tested on defence.

So, any try-scoring opportunity has to be taken, and it was something that Du Plessis got wrong against the Reds last week. He made as if he was going to kick, but then with a swivel of the hips – not unlike his dad – he was through a gap and running over the opposition 10-metre line.

But he took too long to pass to Nizaam Carr, and when he eventually did, it was too far in front of the No 8 and Carr knocked-on.

Du Plessis, though, is positive that the Stormers will finish off such chances going forward, while he is confident about his ever-improving goal-kicking after a nervy start against the Sunwolves.

“I’m feeling a bit more comfortable every week, a bit more used to the speed and intensity of the game. I feel confident personally, but also it’s credit to the coaching staff – they instil a lot of confidence in us in the week, whether you have 50 caps or five,” he said.

“I missed a couple of goal-kicks from the touchline against the Sunwolves, but it went better in the last two games. But it is definitely a continuous work-on, as it should be. It’s vital to the team’s success in some games. I’ve been training my kicking four times a week, passing every day, tackling, etc.

“It’s definitely a step forward for Western Province rugby, the way we are going at the moment.”

And does his dad give him advice, especially after he scored a try in the same left-hand corner that Carel had many times? “When I got home, we just had a good laugh and he congratulated me. It was actually my mom who said that my father’s last try for Province was in that corner, and my first try is in that corner! So it’s like a fantasy,” said a smiling Du Plessis.

“But my father is not one to really get swept up in the emotion of it all. He will congratulate me and tell me where I played well, but also constructive criticism, which is what I’m after. I’m not after… coming home and my father sugar-coating things to me – he gives it to me straight and we have a good relationship with regard to rugby.”

@IndyCapeSport - Independent Media

Original source: Jean-Luc likes being ‘out of the box’