Springbok No 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit is on the cover of the new SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week.
So how far behind New Zealand are the Springboks? The bad news is that it will be some time before a nationwide conditioning strategy produces significant results. The good news, writes chief rugby writer Jon Cardinelli in the latest edition of SA Rugby magazine, is that South Africa already possesses a second-rower who can go toe-to-toe with the Kiwi giants.
The numbers support the argument that Pieter-Steph du Toit was the Stormers and Boks’ standout performer in 2016. While the Cape franchise fell at the first playoff hurdle and while the Boks finished the season with a four-from-12 record, the quality of Du Toit’s all-round performances were some consolation.
‘All around the world, locks have had to become more balanced in their approach,’ says Johann van Graan, who worked with the Bok lineout and attack this past season.
‘It's not just about the lineouts or the kickoffs anymore. A lock needs to be able to carry, defend, and compete at the rucks. South Africa is blessed with some outstanding locks, and Pieter-Steph du Toit was brilliant in 2016.
‘He has a big engine on him. The role of the lock has changed and many players around the world have adapted, but Pieter-Steph is something special. His biggest strength is his ball-carrying ability. He reminds me of [former Bok and Bulls utility forward] Danie Rossouw. He wants the ball in his hands.
'Whether he plays at No 4, 5, or 7, he is going to make an impact. That's why he's been so valuable to the Boks in recent times, and why he will be an important player in the lead-up to the next World Cup.’
Also in the new issue:
– We identify five young diamonds the Boks must nurture and manage as part of the rebuilding process
– The Springboks' reputation took a hit in 2016. We look back at the worst South African season in the professional era
– After a year of mixed fortunes with the Lions and the Boks, flyhalf Elton Jantjies again finds himself at a crossroads
– Sevens star Seabelo Senatla took his game to new heights this past season
– A detailed scouting manual and well-run academy is the foundation for the Blitzboks' ongoing success
– The All Blacks dominated on the field in 2016 and at the World Rugby awards
– Former Vodacom Cup prop Daniel Kotze is making the most of his time in France
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