Breaking the mould

2014-10-09 00:00

IT has long been said that the best props take years to develop and only get better with time.

But at 19 years old, Sharks prop Thomas “The Tank Engine” du Toit is breaking that mould and has been a huge part of a successful Sharks Currie Cup season so far.

Hailing from Korinsberg in the Western Cape, Du Toit might be from a small town but that has not stopped him from achieving big things.

He was part of the SA U20 team who beat the Baby Blacks earlier this year and he has played Super Rugby for the Sharks before making his Currie Cup debut. The amicable prop believes that experience has helped him develop,

“Super Rugby helps you get used to the intensity of rugby and the way the game is played — it’s unbelievably quick, it’s fast, it’s hard so it takes you up to a level that you never knew,” the young prop said.

Taking all of that in, Du Toit believes Currie Cup is just as challenging but the burly prop is no stranger to hard graft.

“The first year of Currie Cup has been very hard and also very difficult with an injury that wasn’t planned. The atmosphere is great and playing against people you know is really nice and I am making a lot of friends,” he said.

Some of those friends were once his heroes and Du Toit has been soaking up as much as he can from the experienced heads around him.

“Having experienced guys with you brings another dimension to the game.

“My biggest influence is probably Jannie du Plessis. I know Wiehahn Herbst helped me a lot at the beginning of the year but there are too many guys to name. The whole squad are influential and are massive assets to me,” he said.

Drawing from that experience, Du Toit admits that Springbok selection is very much part of a five-year plan that also included making Super Rugby and Currie Cup. With those boxes ticked, Du Toit believes someone like Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard shows that he can take a step up.

“With Handre it shows you that anything is possible. A lot of things happen through injury and it just so happened that he made the Springbok team, which is absolutely brilliant.

“I am very happy for him and look up to him in that context to play above my level and hopefully play for the Boks,” he said.

Before he realises any Springbok ambitions, Du Toit is firmly focused on the task at hand — beating Western Pro-vince this weekend before the semi-finals.

“The perspective of the following games is exactly the same as playing a semi-final and final,” he said.

The Sharks take on Western Province at Newland, Cape Town on Saturday. Kickoff is at 5.05 pm.

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