Lock is standing tall

2014-03-13 00:00

WHEN watching Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit in action, it’s hard to believe that he is just 21 years old.

The two-metre tall forward has grown in stature at the Durban-based franchise since making his Super Rugby debut against the Chiefs two years ago as a wet-behind-the-ears 19-year-old.

So much has his standing within the Sharks forward pack grown, that Du Toit has been entrusted with the responsibility of running the lineouts.

Asked if he was happy with how the youngster had handled himself in controlling the lineouts in their first game against the Bulls — and the legendary Victor Matfield — a month ago, skipper Bismarck du Plessis remarked, “We won 10 out of 11 lineouts, so we’re happy about that.”

Earlier this week, Du Toit told reporters how running the lineouts was something he enjoyed doing, although he still had a lot to learn.

Doing the job well would also put him in good standing in the books of Springbok head-honcho Heyneke Meyer.

“Heyneke likes a number 5 that can control the lineouts which is something I’m trying to do at the Sharks, so I’m thinking that’s something I need to put a lot of work into,” said the Cape Town-born Du Toit, who has two Test caps to his name

The rest of the forwards chipped in to help the youngster run the lineouts, he said, adding that he also did a bit of work with assistant coach Paul Anthony.

For Du Toit to claim his place as one of the leading lock forwards in the country, he has to make sure that he offers more than Loftus Versfeld’s favourite son, Matfield.

“It [Matfield’s return] is not something I try to think of when I’m playing my game. I just try focus on my game and be a quality player and be the best I can be.”

It is no wonder that other unions — Western Province and the Bulls — saw Du Toit’s potential and were interested in securing his signature. But, the Sharks were not about to let the precociously talented lock go and offered him a two-year-contract in mid-July last year.

“The Sharks are a wonderful union, a place where I like to play my rugby. There’s wonderful weather here as well, and I’m enjoying it so far, so I’m glad I stayed,” Du Toit said.

He also added he was happy to get the opportunity to play under World Cup-winning coach Jake White. “I think Jake is a phenomenal coach. I’ve learnt so much from him and that’s one of the reasons I’m so happy I stayed here,” he said.

Du Toit should be part of a Sharks team that will feature three changes to the team that ran on against the Lions last week.

Pat Lambie is available again and should return to flyhalf with Frans Steyn shifting back to inside centre.

With Paul Jordaan missing a month due to injury and wing Odwa Ndungane having been given time off due to a family bereavement, White will once again have to tinker with his backline.

Heimar Williams had a solid showing last week coming in at 12. White has the option moving him to 13 for the game against the Reds. He also S’bura Sithole and JP Pietersen available.

Both Sithole and Pietersen are adept at playing in either the 13 or 14 jerseys.

Predicted Sharks line-up

15. SP Marais, 14. S’bura Sithole, 13. JP Pietersen

12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Stephan Lewies, 20. Jean Deysel, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. Fred Zeilinga.

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