Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has confirmed that Pieter-Steph du Toit underwent shoulder surgery on Monday and is expected to be out of action “for some time”. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Fairly early on in the opening half of the second Test against the British & Irish Lions, Du Toit was tipped in a late tackle by Duhan van der Merwe, and lay prone on the ground for some time.
Du Toit would return to play, but looked to be in clear discomfort, and ultimately had no choice but to leave the field.
Of course, it can’t be forgotten that the 2019 World Player of the Year only recently overcame a career-threatening leg injury, but he had quickly rediscovered some sensational form.
As a result of Du Toit’s absence for the third and final Test against the Lions, Franco Mostert shifted from lock to flank, where he acquitted himself extremely well.
However, with several players being rested for this weekend’s opening Rugby Championship match against Argentina, Kwagga Smith – who replaced Du Toit when he was injured against the Lions – will start at blindside flank.
At Tuesday’s team announcement, Nienaber confirmed that Du Toit’s injury had required him to go under the knife.
It will lead to concerns that he could be sidelined for several months, and it seems almost certain that he won’t feature in this season’s Rugby Championship.
“Pieter-Steph had shoulder surgery on Monday, and I spoke to him briefly. It went well but he will be out for some time,” Nienaber commented. “I’m not 100% sure [if he will be able to play again this year]. At this point, I would be lying if I put a time frame to the length of rehabilitation required.”
Meanwhile, Nienaber said they would continue to closely monitor the progress of Duane Vermeulen and Faf de Klerk, who continue to recover from an ankle injury and leg muscle strain, respectively.
“Duane is training with us, and it’s nice to have him in the group doing his rehab. He hadn’t been a part of the squad for a little while, so his input into our structures is great to have again.
“All I can say is that we won’t play him until he’s 100%. Everyone needs to be confident with his on-field training and recovery before we could consider him for a return to play.
“But the good news is that he did the majority of training sessions with us last week, and is training again this week. We will continue to assess his recovery, but won’t push him. It’s the same for someone like Faf, we will wait until there is full medical clearance to say when they are ready to go.”