Cape Town – The
heart-and-soul performances of Pieter-Steph du Toit in recent weeks are making
it increasingly imperative that he be a starter for the Springboks on their
premier occasions during the June international window.
He should also
be allowed to operate in his most familiar position - lock - which makes a
partnership between Lood de Jager and himself look the most obvious, rational prospect
for the Boks in the increasingly unlikely event that Eben Etzebeth is Test-fit
in time for significant service during the England series.
For all the
talk of lanky RG Snyman’s rise at Loftus, and rightly so, Du Toit was a
colossal presence in just about every respect in Saturday’s 29-17 Stormers
triumph over the Bulls: the best second-rower on the park amidst an impressive
quartet of them that included both De Jager and Snyman for the enemy outfit.
always get it right for player of the match in Super Rugby, but he was a
fitting choice, the big, unassuming fellow forced briefly into public limelight -clearly not the acknowledged Swartland “farm boy’s” most comfortable habitat
- to accept his laurel.
currently expansive blond mop of hair just seemed to crop up everywhere as the
home front five’s mastery played a crucial part in the outcome of a
widely-lauded contest that breathed new life into the concept of South African
scrumming, mauling, clean-outs, drives, hits … Du Toit left no personal box unticked
before the appreciative, very welcome Newlands crowd of 30 000-plus.
shouldn’t have surprised anyone who has been monitoring his form over the last
few rounds of matches: in short, he is back touching his optimal performance
levels, which makes him a considerable engine-room package indeed.
Junior World Championship-winning star of 2012 for his country, now 25 and with
plenty of top-flight service still ahead of him, has let his herculean,
constantly industrious actions do the talking when it comes to Bok selection
this has come during a period when the Stormers have undergone some marked
periods of angst in results terms and on the injury front, is simply a further
feather in Du Toit’s cap: he’s been a priceless bastion of assuredness through
he has looked increasingly comfortable as a versatile forward, rather than a
little betwixt and between as he did at one stage when asked to revisit the
blindside flanker chore.
Du Toit was
quite superb in that spot - a bastion of defiance as too many colleagues around
him surprisingly wilted -- even as the Stormers were trounced 52-31 by the
Lions in Johannesburg back in early April.
Keep in mind
that he is the incumbent Bok No 7: in one policy step that much-maligned
Allister Coetzee got right in the dying phase of his tenure as Bok coach, Du
Toit was looking more and more at home there in four successive starts at the
end of 2017.
an appealing fit for the jersey as Rassie Erasmus prepares to take his 2018
Springboks into June battle, even if the Sharks’ genuinely rugged Jean-Luc du
Preez (also finding best form) is a compelling alternative.
Jeff Wilson, anchor of New Zealand rugby chat show The Breakdown, recently
described Du Preez as “a bull” - and no, he wasn’t mixing up his SA franchises,
But if you
asked loyal squad man Du Toit which department he would prefer to occupy for
South Africa shortly, you’d firmly imagine he would say the second row.
is doing more than enough to earn that ticket.
that the player has the physical and other qualities to be able to be either of
a No 4 or 5 lock - a fact one astute former Bok coach, Heyneke Meyer, was not
averse to pointing out several back.
Meyer said he believed that Du Toit could become “one of the best fives ever” …
although in virtually the same breath he acknowledged that he “plays like a
four”, given his natural physical commitment and formidable tale of the tape:
two metres, almost 120kg.
combination, in the absence of proven powerhouse Etzebeth, of Du Toit and De
Jager for the Boks still has a seriously classy feel about it, something
Erasmus is likely to concur with; the latter is also well able to be either a
“front” or “middle” man as a lineout lock.
No less a
personality that Bakkies Botha, legend of the Bok second row, was effusive in
his praise of Du Toit’s showing in the Stormers v Bulls derby; something not
insignificant when you consider the ex-meanie’s yeoman Loftus loyalties.
to Twitter to say that Du Toit’s “work-rate this season is mind-blowing … they
must look after him because he can play anywhere”.
Etzebeth injured, he said, Du Toit was increasingly moving out of his franchise
squad-mate’s shadow and “deserves more credit as a player”.
It was a
ringing endorsement, don’t you think?
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