Fourie du Preez is “royal game’ in the Springbok camp

So there are us sleepy-eyed Durban hacks listening to Gary Gold telling us in a press conference what he told us last week about the statement he made the week before about he is backing youth in the Currie Cup, and critics can go to hell in a handcart,“But at the same time it is nice to have back the experience of Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf. If the Boks don’t want him, we certainly do.”

Silence. Bemused reporters look around as Gold suddenly turns crimson at the realisation that, two days before the RWC squad announcement, he has revealed that Reinach has not made the cut (for Rudy Paige).

You have got to love those unintentional gaffes from rugby people “in the know”, that unconsciously spill out classified knowledge to the uninformed, who light up like the lighthouse at the foot of the Bok hotel in Umhlanga Rocks and do not listen to another word Gold says about the banalities of the Currie Cup as they tweet away the news that Paige is in and Reinach is out, and dare anyone mention the words that a quota system has been enforced on Meyer.

In the olden days – I love that expression when I hear it from my little niece – before the days of multi-media and, heaven forbid, social media, newspapers actually used to have “trainspotters” who would watch the entrance of a Bok hotel from behind a grassy knoll and be rewarded with the odd snap of a crestfallen player packing his luggage into the boot of a taxi, his dream in tatters

That is honestly how reporters in the “olden days” picked up scoops about who was in an out.

My dear old friend Michael Shafto, a famous rugby writer of the 70s who is now well into his dotage, once told me how he was chased from his “grassy knoll” by a sjambok-wielding security guard. That is what you did for your stories in those days.

Even the not-so-secretive reporter hanging about the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2015 might have spotted the odd indication that all is not well with the 44. A disconsolate Marcell Coetzee was hiding nothing when he packed his kit into his SUV.

But back to Reinach. As a veteran reporter dating back to the start of the post-olden days, you want to tell him to be not too hasty in unpacking that suitcase. In fact, I would advise him to take out some of the surfing trunks and pack in some woollies.

I bet my house on it that Reinach will still play in the World Cup. Which brings us to the enigmatic Fourie du Preez. I have spoken about trainspotters sneaking their binoculars through the leaves of the grassy knolls around the Beverly Hills, but none of these heavily camouflaged operators have whispered a spotting.

I reckon Fourie uses the trademen’s entrance, which is a well known trick of the trade in London and New York Hotels as a way of spiriting in celebrities through busy hotel kitchens to thwart the media hordes.

There has been more chance of spotting the Loch Ness Monster doing a lap around the Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse or, as one of my colleagues put it, of seeing the Scarlet Pimpernel in Paris.

There is no question that Fourie du Preez is “royal game’ in the Springbok camp. Not be seen, not be spoken to.

There is no doubt that he proved himself to be the best scrumhalf in the world …. in 2007.

To be fair, Heyneke Meyer does not hav a dishonest bone in his body, and he is convinced that eight years later Du Preez can win the Boks the World Cup, despite his hibernation in Japan.

There is one small clause in the Rugby World Cup Agreement that worries me. It basically says that a player arriving injured at the World Cup cannot be replaced.

Mind you, that should worry Reinach as well.

Oh well, who are we to question what is going on behind closed doors at that most scenic of hotels on the KZN Dolphin Coast. But I stand my recommendation to Reinach that he does not hastily unpack.

by Mike Greenaway

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