Stormers coach John Dobson says it was great to see the response of Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, who ended up playing the full 80 minutes on his return from injury on Saturday.
Du Toit made his first start in over a year in the Rainbow Cup SA opener against the Sharks in Cape Town. It could quite possibly be his final season in Cape Town, with the expectation being that he will head to Japan later this year.
The 2019 World Player of the Year suffered a career-threatening leg injury in February 2020. He was set to make his comeback during the Preparation Series, but was delayed after he hurt his nose during a training session.
Despite the Stormers slumping to a 33-30 loss, letting a 17-point lead slip, Du Toit was one of the shining lights in the match. The flanker surprisingly played the full match, but wasted no time in getting stuck in, making plenty of big hits and carries, winning lineouts and making clean after clean at the breakdown.
Together with teammate Nama Xaba, who gave the Sharks a headache at the breakdown, Du Toit’s performance was described by Dobson as one of the few positives that the Stormers could take out of the match.
‘I thought Nama and Pieter-Steph’s performances were the highlights,’ Dobson said in the post-match press conference. ‘Those are two flanks who did so well after so long out. Nama got a couple of steals and I though both were exceptional.’
Dobson revealed that the plan was to substitute Du Toit in the second half, but that was thrown out after debutant No 8 Willie Engelbrecht was red carded. That prompted the Stormers to replace Engelbrecht (according to the new red card law trial), forcing both Du Toit and Xaba to play the full match.
‘We had a certain plan with our subs but the red cards threw it out,’ Dobson explained. ‘The way Pieter-Steph and Nama were working, even in 70th minute, was incredible.
”The plan changed. Pieter was never going to play 80 minutes. Once we told him he had to finish, he responded really well.’
Du Toit’s performance will certainly have Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber pleased, with the British & Irish Lions series on the horizon.
Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images