Where does Du Toit fit in with Meyer’s plans?

2013-11-20 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer has previously said he believes Pieter-Steph du Toit has what it takes to become one of South Africa’s greatest rugby players.

But that begs the question: Where does the 21-year-old Du Toit fit in with Meyer’s plans?

During the past week, Du Toit did not even make the Boks’ 23-man squad that thrashed Scotland by 28-0 at Murrayfield.

Bakkies Botha and Flip van der Merwe were the second row pair, with Eben Etzebeth on the reserve bench.

Although Van der Merwe’s appearance in the No. 5 jersey must be seen as temporary, he did well thanks to his good lineout calls. Botha did well enough at Murrayfield to remain part of Meyer’s future plans.

How will the Bok coach use Botha in future? At 34 years there is no guarantee that Bakkies will be playing in the 2015 World Cup tournament.

The absence of Du Toit can probably be ascribed to a lack of conviction within the Bok management whether he’s ready to lead the way in the No. 5 position during lineouts.

It was as recently as 2010 when South Africa stumbled against Scotland at Murrayfield and it was probably with that in mind that Meyer did not want to take any risks.

However, the less Du Toit is exposed to Test rugby, the fewer his chances will be to develop as Etzebeth’s lock partner. The two have the potential to emulate the lock pair before them — Botha and Victor Matfield — and to become the Boks’ lock pair for many years.

Etzebeth and Du Toit are respectively 22 and 21, with the potential to play together until the 2023 World Cup (which will hopefully be held in South Africa).

It is thus surprising that Meyer on the face of it took such a short-term decision to put Du Toit’s development on hold for the moment. There are not many Tests left before the 2015 World Cup to mould him as a possible Bok stalwart.

If you don’t want him to play against Scotland, how will you ever convince yourself that he has the talent to face the All Blacks?

In all fairness to Meyer, it is clear that he meticulously plans the road ahead. There had not been much long-term planning in the pipe line following the 2007 World Cup tournament and as a result Meyer took over a team in 2012 that lacked a leadership nucleus.

As a result of the combination of a growing degree of maturity and natural evolution, things are improving in the Bok camp. If the Boks should win on Saturday, their winning record this year will be 83%. However, my concern still is the interaction between Meyer’s plans for the lock pair and that of the test of time.

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