Cape Town - Springbok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot believes Pieter-Steph du Toit will become an international star irrespective of what position he plays.
Du Toit, who normally plays lock, is set to start at flank for the Springboks in Saturday’s Test against Italy in Padova.
Du Toit, who has been cleared of concussion, will replace Siya Kolisi, who has returned to South Africa on paternity leave.
Du Toit has played flank in his last four Tests but according to Proudfoot, it doesn’t matter where he plays.
The Bok forwards coach was speaking at a press conference in Padua on Wednesday.
“He’s not a player who has to be stuck in one position. He’s a tremendous athlete. Pieter-Steph doesn’t talk much, but whether you pick him at lock, flank or No 8, he’ll play to the best of his abilities,” Proudfoot was quoted as saying by Netwerk24.
“The more freedom he has to get his hands on the ball, the better. He’s an unbelievable ball-carrier with excellent acceleration, especially when breaking off the scrums. He gives us the opportunity to attack on the blindside.”
Proudfoot also believes the differences between the lock and flank positions are over-emphasised
“Technically, in everything that happens on the field, No 5 and 7 are very close together. They both jump in the lineout, they both tackle and clean. There’s not a big difference in what they do,” Proudfoot was quoted as saying by SA Rugbymag.
Proudfoot also praised Du Toit’s willingness to help the team where needed.
"There’s no place for all four locks in the team. But we’ve had a lot of injuries in the loose forwards. Here’s a guy who says, ‘Listen, give me the ball and I’ll take responsibility’”.
Du Toit's inclusion is expected to be the only change to the Bok starting team from the one that beat France 18-17 in Paris last weekend.
Warrick Gelant is however expected to be included on the bench and will make his Test debut if he gets a chance to come on.