There's no turbulence from Jannie du Plessis

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014
Wyatt Crockett
JOSEPH JOHNSON/Fairfax NZ

WYATT CROCKETT: "We both had a laugh about it and said to each other ‘what are the chances?' The night before we were going hammer and tongs and then we were sitting beside each other."

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Wyatt Crockett knows it could have been the journey from hell.

Having attempted to batter Jannie du Plessis black and blue in the 2011 Super Rugby quarterfinal in Nelson the previous evening, Crockett was shocked to learn he had to sit beside the Sharks tighthead prop on a flight between Sydney and Johannesburg.

Loosehead prop Crockett knows it could have been the most uncomfortable 12 hours of his life; while the Crusaders spent the journey psyching themselves up for the following weekend's semifinal against the Stormers in Cape Town, the Sharks were forced to stew on their season-ending 36-8 loss at Trafalgar Park.

"We both had a laugh about it and said to each other ‘what are the chances?'," Crockett said. "The night before we were going hammer and tongs and then we were sitting beside each other."

Du Plessis may be a medical doctor but when his temperature rises the resulting eruption can be spectacular.

Hurricanes flanker Karl Lowe discovered this when he received a heavy slap to the head from du Plessis in New Plymouth in 2012, an incident that sparked a brawl.

Crockett was relieved to discover that when du Plessis removes his boots he is a good-natured fellow. Du Plessis could have made the journey difficult by sulking or embarrassing his fellow passenger by chattering to his Sharks team-mates in Afrikaans.

"He was really good, I asked him a few questions about his training and he was more than happy to have a yarn," Crockett reflected.

"It was pretty hard case. Obviously for them it was the end of the season and they were having a couple of beers and we were going over for a semifinal and were pretty serious."

The Crusaders, who spent the whole season travelling because of the earthquakes, beat the Stormers but lost the final to the Reds in Brisbane.

Crockett will probably share a beverage with du Plessis after battle at AMI Stadium tonight and congratulate him on earning his 100th cap for the Sharks.

Tighthead prop "Beast" Mtawarira will also bring up the milestone.

The all-Springboks Sharks front row, which has Jannie's brother Bismarck du Plessis at hooker, have played a combined 311 Super Rugby games while the Crusaders unit of Owen Franks, Corey Flynn and Crockett have amassed 359 caps.

Meanwhile, Crockett said the quick-tap from a penalty, which resulted in his try early in the second half of last Sunday night's 57-29 walloping of the Reds was one of those moments when he backed his instincts.

"I think I have only ever done it once before and I didn't get there. I just saw there was an opportunity and if I hesitated it was going to be gone.

"Afterwards I did think ‘shit it was lucky I got it otherwise I would have got a rark up'."

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