The Sharks physically imposing eighth-man Daniel du Preez won’t take any credit for his spectacular power play this season.
In a team loaded with exciting outside backs it is a testament to the impact the number 8 has made this season that he leads not only the Sharks try scorers, but has crossed the whitewash more than any other South African this season.
Du Preez puts his try scoring and impact down to the team’s game plan and togetherness but he has certainly put in the hard yards. With 116 carries this year he is second only to Samu Kerevi of the Reds, when it comes to taking getting hands on the ball and taking it forward.
“It’s a team effort that allows me to play to my strengths,” he admits self-deprecatingly.
“It’s my team-mates around me who make me look good, they’re helping me, but I don’t think I’m doing amazing things.”
The Sharks top the South African conference after seeing off the Waratahs in Sydney last week but will know how quickly their position can change in a section where the gap between first and fifth is just four points.
The men from Durban face the Crusaders this weekend and Du Preez feels that it is up to the forwards to provide the team with its platform for success.
“We all knew it would be a forward battle [against the Waratahs] and because we did well at set-piece time, that laid the platform and foundation for the backline to strike from.
“I also thought the forwards were very good on defence. We also didn’t make many handling errors.
“We’re looking forward to this game, this is the big one. Our set-piece needs to function well and we need to minimise handling errors. We know that if we make mistakes against the Crusaders, they’re going to punish us.”
Du Preez is relishing the prospect of facing legendary All Black number 8 Kieran Read for the first time ever.
“I have played against him before and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he admits. “This is a massive opportunity to play against someone I believe is one of the best players in the world.”
The Sharks play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday morning from 09:35 SAST.