Andrews: Du Toit key to Boks’ success

2015-06-25 22:00
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Springbok legend Mark Andrews believes the availability of Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit would be crucial to South Africa’s campaign at this year’s Rugby World Cup in England.

Du Toit faces a race against time to recover from the serious knee injury - an anterior cruciate ligament tear - he suffered in March giving Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer sleepless nights over the No 5-lock position.

“I think if Pieter-Steph du Toit gets right he will solve that problem, for me he is the perfect lock but if he is not there we have some problems at No 5,” the former Bok lock said at the reunion of the 1995 World Cup winning Springbok squad at Ellis Park on Wednesday.

“He (Du Toit) is an incredible player and I think at a World Cup, even if he is fairly inexperienced but playing with a fairly experienced pack and some great loose forwards, a guy like Pieter-Steph will become the key part of our campaign.”

Andrews, who was an enforcer for the Boks during his heyday, said Du Toit ticked all the right boxes and would supply the grunt that was needed at a World Cup.

“I’ve played against and watched incredible locks play rugby in the last 20 years and for me he has the best attributes out of every single one of the great locks,” he said.

“He can carry the ball, tackle, take a lineout, defend a lineout, he can work a bit of the defensive line, cross-cover, he can read the game, his kick-offs are phenomenal and he chases the kick.”

To add to the No5-lock selection conundrum, Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe - who is also known for ‘doing the hard stuff’ - did not avail himself for the Springbok training camps in April.

Andrews said Van der Merwe was the obvious choice should Du Toit not be perfectly fit for the global showpiece starting in September.

“Flip van der Merwe would probably be a better option for me and I’ve heard he’s not made himself available which is a big scare for me,” Andrews said.

“Even though you need to give him the rule book so that he doesn’t give away four penalties in a game.

“He’s played some games in the past where he has been phenomenal for me, he just secures the ball and World Cups are about possession and applying pressure.

“You’ve got to have guys that are owning the breakdown and making sure your halfback is getting clean ball.”

Should neither Du Toit nor Van der Merwe be available, the No 5-jersey could go to Victor Matfield, who looked every bit his age this season with the exception of his lineout work.

Andrews said although nothing should be taken away from the 38-year-old’s legacy, he believed Matfield was past his sell-by date as a player.

“We can never take away from what Victor has done, but I know for myself and if you’ve been in the game long enough, it is very hard to play with the commitment and the passion that it takes when you’ve been there for a long time,” he explained.

“You’ve worked out the shortcuts, you also know that cleaning the ‘oke’ out at full pace can hurt so you wait for Willem Alberts to clean him out.

“At a World Cup you need to be able to have the mindset that you will write yourself off to secure ball at the breakdown and I think Victor is past that stage in his career.”

He said Matfield’s experience would be invaluable at the World Cup off the field but during the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, the Boks would require players “that are prepared to die in those jerseys and write themselves off for that ball”.


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