Thomas du Toit has had to process his emotions as he prepares to play his final Vodacom United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park when the Sharks host Munster on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Du Toit will be leaving the Sharks at the end of the season and will be joining Premiership club Bath after the World Cup in France later this year.
The Springbok prop has spent almost the entirety of his professional career in Durban, since making his senior debut at the tender age of 19 back in 2014. Aside from a short loan spell with Munster between the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, Du Toit has largely been a one-club man.
Given that the Sharks cannot secure a home playoff in the Vodacom URC, this means that Saturday’s final-round clash against Munster will be Du Toit’s last home game in the tournament for the Sharks.
“There’s no real timeline, but [my contract ends] basically after my last game, whenever that is. This will definitely be my last URC home game at Kings Park,” Du Toit told the media on Wednesday.
“Last week, it definitely settled a little bit. I just realised that 10 years, a decade basically, is coming to an end at a union that I have really tried to be loyal to.
“You are a bit naive if you don’t think about it and work through those emotions. It’s definitely something I have been processing for the last two weeks or so. But my job is a rugby player so I need to play good rugby. I want to leave this union on as big a high as possible. It’s a scenario of leaving the jersey in a better place than you got it. That’s something we always speak about but now it’s reality.
“It’s starting to sink in and I am definitely emotional. At the same time, there are exciting seasons in my life ahead. On the one hand, it hurts to leave, but on the other side, it’s exciting.
Du Toit is not the only Sharks player who will be bidding farewell to Kings Park on Saturday as captain Siya Kolisi will also make his final bow ahead of a move to French giants Racing 92 next season.
“Siya is a natural leader. One of the best traits he has is that he gets along with most people. That’s part of what makes him a very good leader,” Du Toit said of his Sharks and Springbok teammate.
“He has brought that personality and inclusiveness into the Sharks. He has done well in getting to know everyone and build those personal relationships with everyone. So he’s had a good impact. He has done a hell of a lot of good things at the Sharks and he’s been very involved in the community. I hope in the future that we can work more together.”
Du Toit is expecting no pleasantries from Munster, especially after the Sharks put 50 points on the Irish club when they were last in Durban three weeks ago in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.
The tighthead prop said that, after Munster claimed a historic win over the Stormers in Cape Town, he expects a far different opposition to run out on Saturday.
“I definitely don’t think it’s going to be the same team, especially with the way that we played against them last time. They are going to be much better prepared.
“I think they had some hard and tough conversations within their own camp. They won’t be the same. They played some unbelievable rugby against the Stormers. I think we are going to see more of that. Their coach made it clear what they needed to work on after our game. They clearly got it right in the Stormers game.
“It’s a different ball game and we aren’t expecting [to score] 50 points. If that comes, we will take it, but it’s going to be a tough game.”
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images