Forwards coach Russell Winter says the Stormers will primarily view Pieter-Steph du Toit as a specialist lock this Super Rugby season, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Du Toit missed the Stormers’ Super Rugby opener last weekend due to a back injury, but the 25-year-old has recovered in time to join the team on their three-week tour of Australasia.
The Stormers are first set to face the Waratahs in Sydney this Saturday, and it will be interesting to see whether Du Toit is brought straight back into the starting lineup, or if JD Schickerling and Chris van Zyl continue in the second row.
Although some might have thought there could also be a possibility for Du Toit to be considered on the flank – where he started four Test matches last year – Winter confirmed that this wouldn’t be the case.
‘Personally, I see him as a lock who can cover loose forward. So predominantly he’ll play in the second row, and only in certain circumstances will he provide another option in the back row.
‘He’s a very good No 5 lock, he calls the lineouts well, and he adds mobility to the pack and that’s what you need. It’s the direction things are going these days, it’s a very fast game, so for me he really is an outstanding lock.’
The Stormers are currently without the services of Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, and Winter said it would be good to be able to call on the experience of Du Toit.
‘It must be said, we have really good locks in the franchise, but there’s no doubt that Pieter-Steph will make a massive difference, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he adds when he gets his chance.’
With the Stormers having settled into their Sydney base at the start of this week, Winter said they were preparing for a fierce battle against an unpredictable Waratahs team.
‘We’ve obviously done a lot of analysis on the Waratahs, and in our opinion they will be improved from last year. They have Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale is back and then someone like Michael Hooper is in the pack. They’re a very good side, who have won this competition before.
‘I think their style of play has changed a bit, and they’re throwing the ball around more and are looking to embrace an exciting brand of rugby, similar to us. In the past, the Stormers have never feared going to play the Waratahs here in Sydney, but of course it’s a big challenge and I’m sure it will be a good game.’
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