Glasgow signing Petrus du Plessis offers inside knowledge on Saracens

When you are in desperate need of an experienced tighthead prop heading towards a Heineken Champions Cup opener against Saracens, who better to bring in than a man who won the competition with that very club twice in 2015 and 2016?
Former Saracens prop Petrus du Plessis brings a wealth of experience to Glasgow.  Picture: David Rogers/Getty ImagesFormer Saracens prop Petrus du Plessis brings a wealth of experience to Glasgow.  Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
Former Saracens prop Petrus du Plessis brings a wealth of experience to Glasgow. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Petrus du Plessis is the man Glasgow coach Dave Rennie has turned to after the loss of Scotland prop Zander Fagerson for six months with a broken ankle and Siua Halanukonuka also being out injured.

The 37-year-old has been signed until the end of the season from London Irish after an illustrious career which was mainly spent at Sarries where he won the English Premiership three times in addition to those two European titles.

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The whirlwind move north, which involved a valuable contribution from former Glasgow and Scotland flanker Kelly Brown who played with Du Plessis at Saracens, saw the tighthead immediately ensconced at Largs, where Warriors are preparing for Sunday’s big game.

“It happened really, really quickly,” the South African explained on the Ayrshire coast yesterday. “Thursday evening I got a call from Dave Rennie and he was wanting to talk to me about where I am at the moment and what, as he would say, nick I am in – how much I have been playing and what I have been doing.

“I explained to him I had a decent season last year at [London] Irish, played every Premiership game. This year I played a couple of big games at the beginning but then they were looking for me to mentor a few of the youngsters and get the youngsters up and running for the Premiership next year.

“Then the right people got in touch with the club and between London Irish and Glasgow they sorted it out for me to come here today. I arrived last night. It took two days and here I am. I have enjoyed every minute of it. We had an intense session this morning and I felt I fitted in nicely.”

Du Plessis admitted that a chat with Brown, who is now an academy coach at Sarries, helped make his mind up that the move would be a good one.

“Yeah. Funnily enough, last week, Monday, there was a chance to go to other clubs maybe on loan, because there’s a massive tighthead crisis in the Premiership as well,” said Du Plessis. “I bumped into Saracens A team last Monday and Kelly Brown was the coach, so I sat down with Kelly and said this has come about, talk to me about it.

“He had nothing but admiration for Glasgow. He spoke really highly of them, and said just as long as I could get my head around the weather…

“He gave me a lot of insight, and it was all true when I got here. I’m thankful for that.”

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Du Plessis is likely to go straight in on Sunday and hopes he can pass on some nuggets of information ahead of the Scotstoun showdown.

“I would imagine Saracens are going to be very physical,” he said. “They play a high intensity game with a fantastic kicking game. We know Saracens will stretch you and test you in every phase of the game, whether it is scrums, lineout, mauls, kicking game, defence, attack.

“There is a good saying: you know exactly what they are going to do and you know exactly how to stop it, but you have to do it by being more physical, more urgent than them and do things better than them on the day.

“The two teams, for me, are very similar and want the same outcomes. They are 
dedicated in getting things right. I can imagine on Sunday it will come down to physicality and work rate.”

Rennie, meanwhile, is delighted to get such a player of pedigree at short notice.

“What does he bring? A wealth of experience. He’s played a lot of rugby for Saracens,” said the Kiwi coach. “The key for us is we need someone who can potentially give us an edge, especially at scrum time. Outside of that, he’s an explosive athlete, he’s a good man, he’s slotted in quickly.

“He’s very professional. He spent a big chunk of last night trying to get his head around a lot of the stuff we’re doing. It’s a big week for him.

“We’ve got a lot of footage of Saracens. We’re pretty clear on the threats that they have and the opportunities that they pose. I’ve no doubt he knows a fair bit about individuals in their team and hopefully that will help him in his role for us. But we’re not leaning too heavily on trying to find out info from him.”