Du Preez set for Cheetahs swansong

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JP du Preez PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Cheetahs locked, JP du Preez, will be playing in his game for the team this week when they face the Tafel Lager Griquas in the SuperRugby Unlocked derby.

The player, who has the distinction of being the tallest player ever to play in the SuperRugby will be leaving the franchise at the end of the month.

Du Preez who measures at 2.09m tall and tips the scales at 122kg is said to be heading to the North West of England where he will be linking up with the Sale Sharks. It is believed that he will be joining the club with numerous South Africans in order to replace another former Cheetah and World Cup winner, Lood de Jager.

Du Preez joined the Cheetahs from the Lions in 2018 and since then he has represented the Free State in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, Currie Cup, PRO14 and now the SuperRugby Unlocked series.

His depart is a big blow to the Cheetahs as his height makes him a forced to be reckoned with at lineout time, however, the Cheetahs have recently acquired the services of Ian Groenewald and Victor Sekekete from the Griquas, while the Currie Cup winner, Reniel Hugo, is still recovering from an injury.

Groenewald made his debut for the Cheetahs against the Stormers last week, while Sekekete is still waiting for some game time.

Du Preez told Bloemfontein Courant that he enjoyed his stay in the Free State, albeit a brief one, and Saturday’s match against the Griquas will be quite emotional.

“Unfortunately this will be my last game for the Cheetahs.

“It will be a very emotional day indeed. It was an honour to play for the Cheetahs and I am very grateful for the experience that I accumulated during the past few years.

“I will wear the Cheetahs jersey with pride for one last time on Saturday and I appreciate all the support.

“I will miss Bloemfontein dearly, but it’s time for me to expand my skillset and continue to grow my game.”

Meanwhile, the Cheetahs coach, Hawies Fourie, told Bloemfontein that the tighthead prop, Luan de Bruin, will not be available for the game.

“Luan has got a grade one tear in his bicep, so he won’t be available for this week’s game against the Griquas.

“The Stormers game last week was his last for us.”

De Bruin who is also leaving the Cheetahs will be joining the Leicester Tigers in England before heading to Edinburgh in Scotland.

Saturday’s derby between the Cheetahs and the Griquas at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein kicks off at 16:30. – MORGAN PIEK