Du Plessis ready to fire for DHL Stormers

PUBLISHED: January 10, 2024

Following a successful return from injury in the final game of 2023, centre Dan du Plessis is raring to go for the DHL Stormers in the first match of the new year.

Du Plessis recovered from an injury in time to start in the final match of last year against the Hollywoodbets Sharks at DHL Stadium.

The inside centre played 60 minutes as the DHL Stormers edged a physical encounter 16-15 and expressed his delight at being able to strap on his boots again and play in front of the Faithful.

“It was really nice to be back on the field again, after a layoff that was just short of three months,” Du Plessis said. “The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, in the week just before the first game of the season. It was a tough pill to swallow.

“I really enjoyed getting back out there, in front of the Faithful. We had some amazing crowds during the festive season. It was a great atmosphere at DHL Stadium. It was a physical game. When you play against the Hollywoodbets Sharks, one thing you’re guaranteed to get is physicality and they didn’t shy away from it.”

Following a week’s break, the DHL Stormers are back in action with an Investec Champions Cup clash against Sale Sharks in Cape Town on Saturday.

Having claimed the scalp of title holders La Rochelle in December, the DHL Stormers currently sit in fourth place in Pool Four, with the top four of each pool going through to the Round of 16.

“These two fixtures in the Investec Champions Cup are like knockout games for us,” Du Plessis explained. “You don’t want to slip up on points or lose a game and then have to rely on other teams to qualify for the playoffs. It’s really important that we put everything into these two games and see how the log turns out at the end of the pool stages.

“This weekend is going to be a really physical battle. Sale has a really big pack of forwards that gives them ascendency. If you don’t stop that, then they get momentum and really get going. They have world-class, experienced players. Those are players that you want to come up against, to challenge yourself against the best.

“They also have a few South Africans playing for them, some who have lots of experience in a DHL Stormers or DHL Western Province jersey,” Du Plessis added. “So it’s going to be interesting facing guys who are used to playing in Cape Town. They will know the DNA of the DHL Stormers. But we are just focusing on ourselves and looking forward to a big clash.”

Du Plessis is set to have a new midfield partner for the rest of the campaign, as Ruhan Nel suffered a season-ending injury against the Hollywoodbets Sharks.

The DHL Stormers announced the signing of Wandisile Simelane last week and Du Plessis is excited to build a new partnership with the former Junior Springbok as the season goes on.

“There’s a real excitement around the squad, to have Wandisile training with us. We are looking forward to seeing him wear the DHL Stormers jersey. We have all seen what he can do, many of the guys have played against him before.

“He’s a player who has a lot of X-factor. Hopefully, we can see a lot of him in midfield this season, which is probably his best position. A talent like that, you probably want him close to the ball, getting his hands on the ball as often as possible. It was unfortunate to lose Ruhan, but it was almost perfect timing to get Wandisile.”

Du Plessis enjoyed his finest season yet for the DHL Stormers in 2022-23, making 23 appearances and scoring three tries.

However, the 29-year-old is not resting on his laurels, having watched as the likes of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu impressed in the early parts of the season.

“Without a doubt, it adds competition to the midfield. That’s essential in a sporting and team environment, where guys push each other to become better and that leads to the team performing better on the weekend.

“It’s been really good seeing Sacha take his chance at the beginning of the season and making the best of it. He did a phenomenal job in the 12 jersey and hopefully he can keep doing it through the rest of the season.”