Gold: Du Toit can play tighthead

Sharks coach Gary Gold has staunchly defended Thomas du Toit’s transition to tighthead prop, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Durban.

Having predominantly plied his trade at loosehead prop since leaving school, Du Toit began the process of making the move back to the other side of the scrum during the Junior World Championship earlier this year.

Du Toit has also featured at tighthead prop for the Sharks this Currie Cup season, and although there has been some criticism of the switch, and Du Toit’s suitability to play there, Gold responded emphatically when discussing the matter during a press conference on Thursday.

‘The fact of the matter is that Thomas is a 135kg, 20-year-old kid. He’s played tighthead at school and he moved to the loosehead side and did well. When he went to the U20 World Championship, and was in our ranks, I had a conversation with [Junior Boks coach] Dawie Theron and [Bok scrum coach] Pieter de Villiers. At 135kg, mobility isn’t necessarily going to be his forte, although he is a great decision-maker and a very good ball carrier. He felt that he wanted to make the shift to tighthead where he’d played before, and he backed his ability to do so.

'I’m convinced he will make it, he’s just 20 years old and I believe he will be the business in a couple of years’ time. Is he the finished product? No, but he’s never going to get to know that unless we give him time in the middle.’

Du Toit will play off the bench in the Sharks’ Currie Cup game against the Kings this Saturday, and Gold said his versatility was something that now added to his value.

‘Thomas is a work in progress, with a 22-man [match-day] squad system in the Currie Cup, we’ve got a guy who can play on both sides and we’re working very hard with him … Ironically, last weekend [against the Lions] all the scrum penalties were not against Thomas. He’s an outstanding rugby player and a unique individual, he might have a few bad games, but that’s where he wants to play and will learn … It also increases his marketability, from a selection point of view, because he can play on both sides of the scrum.’

Meanwhile, the Sharks have lost SP Marais for the season after the fullback suffered a serious knee and ankle injury during Tuesday’s training session.

‘SP is in a world of pain, it’s a big loss for us,’ Gold said. ‘However, it does present an exciting opportunity for Garth April, who has trained very well with us.’

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis