Super Rugby's most potent attacking weapon
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: While the debate over who should don the Springboks No.10 jersey heats up as the June test window nears, one player has separated himself from the pack.
Robert du Preez has emerged as a point-scoring machine since joining the Durban-based Sharks, leading the competition in points after 12 weeks of competition and declaring himself the most potent offensive weapon in Super Rugby.
While an outlandish call at first glance, there’s no doubt that du Preez has the numbers to back up the claim.
Du Preez’s point production has been on another level in 2018.
The first five-eighth has scored 132 points and four tries, good for best in the competition and best among his position respectively. That amounts to 13.2 points every outing, and when you throw in du Preez’s competition-leading seven try assists he is responsible for 16.7 Sharks points every game. He also ranks fourth in the competition in line-break assists (12), showing great awareness to put his teammates into space.
His 38-point outing against the Blues – the third highest single-game haul in Super Rugby history, where he kicked a perfect 13/13 from the tee and scored a try for good measure – and his 18-point effort against the Highlanders – where he outscored the New Zealand side by himself after scoring a try and converting six flawless kick attempts – stand out in what has been a breakthrough season for Du Preez, who has become the leader of one of the highest scoring teams in Super Rugby.
After ten games the Sharks rank third in points scored (296) and sixth in points per game (29.6 – 0.3 points separate teams ranked four through six). He has scored 45% of the Sharks’ total points and is responsible for an impressive 56% when try assists are factored in.
For reference, the next highest points scorer, Damian McKenzie, has scored 107 of the Chiefs’ 268 points, good for 11.9 points per game and 39% of the Chiefs’ total points. When you add McKenzie’s six try assists he is responsible for 51% of the Chiefs scoring and his true points per game increases to 15.2.
The area that truly separates du Preez from the rest of the competition is his incredible ability from the tee.
The 24-year-old is kicking goals at an 88% clip (48/54) and has a ludicrous 94% rate (32/34) when it comes to conversions.
Only the Sunwolves’ Hayden Parker has been more accurate from flyhalf at 90% – though his sample size is significantly smaller as he has taken just 10 kicks.
Du Preez’ boot is also a significant weapon during the run of play. He leads the competition in kicking metres with 2260 and carves off an average of 33.7 metres every time he puts boot to ball.
With the Springboks in for a busy June featuring four tests, it will be tough for new coach Rassie Erasmus to overlook the Sharks’ young gun if he can maintain this level of performance.
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