Petrus Du Plessis says he is relishing the added competition this season after the arrival of James Johnston from Harlequins.
The former Nottingham prop is going into his fifth full season with the club and believes the squad’s front-row depth is as good as it has been since his arrival in March 2009. Despite competing with arguably the two standout tight-heads of last season’s Aviva Premiership in Samoa’s James Johnston and British and Irish Lion Matt Stevens, Du Plessis is happy to knuckle down this preseason and prove his worth.
“Mentally wise, having strong competition is always very good for a player” revealed the durable tight-head.
“It keeps you on your toes and means that you have to work extremely hard as you can’t become complacent with your place in the squad. Obviously having two quality international players in JJ (James Johnston) and Matt Stevens in the same position is just another challenge for me. They will be times in the season where one of us three tight-head’s maybe absent; for instance James maybe away with Samoa, squad rotation or someone picks up an injury, so it means that all of us have to prepare and be raring to go when we are needed.
He added; “The squad has so much depth that we will have experienced players to call upon is there was the unfortunate injury here and there, especially in the tight-head position; but I’m sure the coaches will pick on form, so I’m looking to work as hard as I can and keep on proving my worth to the squad.
“There’s so much depth throughout the team, and not just in the front-row as I have mentioned. Look at the back-row this year, again we’ve recruited well in that department and we’ve got some top class players to call upon. It is the same in the second row, as well as the whole back-line, so no player can rest of their laurels”.
Du Plessis like the rest of the squad has been back in preseason training, and is now in his fourth week back since the summer break.
“I think the preseason has been structured very well; I came in a week early as did a lot of the other guys to get back into the swing of things before the training began.
He added “We are working extremely hard in the gym as well as on the training field, so I think it makes it enjoyable if it’s structured well, and the lads seem to have been training as well as I’ve seen them since I’ve been at the club”.