By Mark Gleeson
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The return of World Cup winning scrum-half Fourie du Preez to South Africa’s side thrilled rugby fans around the country but he will not be available for the Springboks’ next three matches due to club commitments.
Du Preez headed back to Japan on Sunday while the rest of the South African team went in the opposite direction to Argentina for their next game in the Rugby Championship.
Obligations at Suntory Sungoliath mean he is not available for South Africa’s next three matches in the four-nation competition, but there will be little surprise if he is recalled for the final two on home soil against Australia on September 28 and New Zealand on October 5.
The talismanic 31-year-old played his first game for the Springboks since their quarter-final exit in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, returning as a surprise call-up for the opening weekend of the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship.
Coming on as a second-half substitute in Johannesburg, Du Preez scored a try in the record 73-13 win and dazzled Argentine opponents with his ability to rapidly move the ball from the base of the scrum.
After such a long time out Du Preez himself said he felt like a debutant – even though coming on for Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar for the last 25 minutes of the game marked his 63rd cap.
“I had a mental struggle over whether I could come back or not but now I believe I can be of benefit to the team whether on the field or off it,” he told reporters.
“It was a quick pace like I’m used to in Japan, although I’ve only played about 100 minutes in the last six months. It was a bit of a test for me being back at this level.
“I’m a little sad I’m not going (to the next three matches) having been part of the process over the last week.”
Du Preez, who battled injury at the height of his career, is being coaxed back for the 2015 World Cup.
(Editing by Mark Pangallo)