Du Toit to miss start of domestic competition

Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit will miss the start of South Africa’s domestic competition as he continues to recover from a leg injury.

The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year suffered the injury during the Stormers’ loss to the Blues in late February.

The injury nearly cost Du Toit his leg as the haematoma quickly developed into acute compartment syndrome. Were it not for the quick thinking of team doctor Jason Suter – who described the case as very rare – Du Toit may have been forced into early retirement.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Stormers coach John Dobson said Du Toit’s recovery process has not been as smooth as they would have hoped, but they were still hopeful he would only miss the opening two matches of the domestic season.

‘Pieter-Steph is not ready yet and the truth is that we are not sure when he will be ready,’ Dobson said.

‘It was predicted to be a six-month injury. The nerve in the muscle is damaged which protects the knee. The muscle around that nerve is not growing back fast enough.

‘It is showing signs of growth, though, and our hope is that he only misses the first two games. He will miss the start, but he is training full out.’

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The domestic season is set to resume on 26 September when the Vodacom Bulls take on the Sharks, and the Lions battle the Stormers on ‘Vodacom Super Fan Saturday’ in Pretoria.

This will be followed by what is being called the ‘Springbok Showdown’, which will pit the best local stars and top, up-and-coming talent against each other on 3 October.

After these two rounds of ‘pre-season’ action, a double-round local competition, between seven franchises, will kick off on the weekend of 10 October.

This will likely put the players through their paces as the franchises have only last week returned to full-contact training.

‘We are massively scared of injury, to be honest,’ Dobson said. ‘It is probably not since school that they have gone six or seven months like this.

‘As a coaching group our major fear is injury. We have seen the stats from the other competitions. The players are really keen to play mentally but at the same time we are really worried about injuries.

‘We have pushed the players as far as we could over the last few weeks to try and get as close as we could within the regulations.’

Dobson added that the Stormers were likely to take a squad of either 25 or 26 players to Loftus Versfeld, depending on the Covid-19 directives from SA Rugby.

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Photo: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack