Eastbourne: The prospect of the long-awaited return to the South African team of veteran scrumhalf Fourie du Preez for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup game against Japan in Brighton has his potential halfback partner purring with pleasure.
"It’s great to have him back. He’s probably one of the best decision makers on the field. He can control the pace of the game, he can decide what happens," said flyhalf Handre Pollard on Monday.
"He’s been phased back slowly, we don’t want to lose him (to injury again). Now he’s back in training, you can see the difference.
"The knowledge of the way he wants to play, that’s the most important thing. All his experience helps calm down a young player like me," said the 21-year-old.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer believes on-field leadership in the tight moments of the World Cup will be crucial and along with captain Jean de Villiers and lock Victor Matfield, Du Preez is a key part of that.
The 33-year-old Du Preez, a key member of the South African side that won the 2007 World Cup in France, won the last of his 70 caps against Scotland in June last year. His international appearances have been limited because he plays club rugby in Japan, suffered a serious ankle injury in 2014 and in June this year tore medial collateral ligaments in training at his Japanese club.