Form lock Pieter-Steph du Toit should be back on the field sooner rather than later according to the Springbok coaching staff, reports JON CARDINELLI in Stellenbosch.
The Stormers No 5 injured his hamstring in the recent Super Rugby clash with the Cheetahs. As a result, Du Toit was forced to miss the Boks’ first field session in Stellenbosch on Monday, as he had to go for scans to assess the damage. The results confirmed that Du Toit had sustained a grade-two tear, and that he would be out for anywhere between two and six weeks.
Despite the setback, Du Toit attended Tuesday morning’s training session at the Markötter fields. He watched from the sidelines as his official replacement, Franco Mostert, ran with the Bok squad. Mostert was called up late on Monday night, and arrived in the Cape earlier on Tuesday morning.
At this stage, it appears as if Du Toit will remain in camp with the Boks. He’s unlikely to be available for the first Test against Ireland on 11 June. And yet, if he makes steady progress, he may feature later in the series.
Bok attack coach Johann van Graan told the media that Du Toit won't be on the sidelines for long. It’s good news for a player whose Test career has been stalled by injuries. Since making his debut in late 2013, Du Toit has played eight games for the Boks. He’s yet to start a Test at No 5.
‘I really feel for him,’ said Van Graan. ‘He’s been so unlucky with injuries over the course of his international career. He showed at the World Cup last year that he has the potential to become a great Test lock, and he’s been in great form throughout Super Rugby [only Eben Etzebeth has more lineout steals]. I suppose he is lucky in that this current injury isn’t a long-term one.
‘It’s a blow. He was a big part of our plans. That said, Lood de Jager had a big World Cup playing in that No 5 position. Franco Mostert has been playing great rugby and deserves this chance. So we are certainly not short on quality in that position.’
Elton Jantjies (finger injury) didn’t take part in Tuesday’s session. The Boks are still waiting on the results of Trevor Nyakane’s shoulder scan. However, Jesse Kriel (chest bruising) did feature in the session.
Coach Allister Coetzee has selected three players based at overseas clubs, namely Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and Steven Kitshoff. The trio will only join the squad on Sunday. The European clubs are only obligated to release their players when the World Rugby-sanctioned Test window opens.
‘That’s the way it was before, and that’s the way it is now,’ said Van Graan, who was part of the previous coaching team between 2012 and 2015. ‘You have a short amount of time and you have to make it work.
‘All three players are world class. Duane’s been the heart and soul of this team over the past four years. Flo is one of the best opensides in the world. I don’t see any reason why they won’t slot in seamlessly when they join us. They are in the loop in terms of what’s going on here in Stellenbosch, so there shouldn’t be a problem.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images