Motivated Pieter-Steph has big plans for 2020

Pieter-Steph du Toit (Gallo)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Gallo)

Cape Town - It seems like forever ago that Pieter-Steph du Toit made the move from Durban to Cape Town, leaving Sharks fans with their heads in their hands as they lost one of South African rugby's brightest young prospects to the Stormers.

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Back in 2015 when that transfer was finalised, Du Toit was just 23-years-old and while he arrived at Newlands incredibly highly-rated, few could have predicted that he would go on to reach the heights he has in such a short space of time. 

He had played just four Test matches back then. 

On Friday, Du Toit joined Naas Botha and Bryan Habana as the only men to ever win the coveted SA Rugby Player of the Year Award three times and he has now scooped the award in three of the last four years.  

His role in South Africa's heroic 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign also saw him crowned World Rugby Player of the Year last year. 

Today, Tu Toit has 55 Bok caps to his name and he is easily one of Rassie Erasmus' most prized possessions. 

There are seemingly no limits for this giant of a man who has made the move from lock to flank look like one of the most obvious tactical switch in the game's history. 

As one journalist bluntly asked Du Toit during his media briefing on Friday: "What is there left to achieve?"

Du Toit is an imposing figure, but he has always been soft-spoken and apparently shy. His words, however, are as powerful as his defence on the field. 

"There is a lot left to achieve. I'm trying to build up a legacy that everyone in South Africa, and especially my family and friends, can be proud of," he offered. 

"The motivation will always be there. I've got personal ambitions, on and off the field, and that's what drives me at the moment."

Du Toit's decision to remain in South Africa in 2020 and commit to the Stormers was a massive boost for South African rugby at a time when more and more of the country's biggest names are seeking more lucrative bases abroad. 

With the World Cup triumph now firmly in the past, Du Toit has started to look forward again and there are two massive goals he has set for himself. 

One of those is to play in the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour, while the other is to win Super Rugby with the Stormers in the franchise's final year at Newlands. 

The Lions tour, Du Toit confirmed, was a major factor in his decision to commit to the Stormers. 

"When we discussed the possibility of staying or going last year, that always came up for me and I was always afraid that I wouldn't get picked if I played overseas," he said.

"That was always in the back of my mind to make sure that I can do everything from my side to be selected for the Lions tour."

It seems absurd to think that Du Toit would ever have to worry about being picked for the Boks ever again, regardless of where he is based, but he doesn't view himself as anything other than a cog in the Bok machine. 

"We've got a big role to try and get South African rugby back to what it was," he said.

"I was involved for a couple of years where it wasn't so good, so personally I feel I have a responsibility to try and help where I can and do my part."

Now, with a new Super Rugby season a week away from kicking off, there will not be much time to dwell on the successes of the past year. 

"I will always try be as humble as I can and keep my feet on the ground because you're only as good as your last game. If I go into Super Rugby and miss a tackle, then everyone will notice," he said.

"You have to put that in the past as quick as possible.

"It's always nice when you get home around a braai and you can speak about it (the World Cup) and always bring those memories back. It's an unbelievable feeling when you think about it, but you can't stand still.

"You have to look into the future and make new plans ... I just want to enjoy my rugby, be fully fit and learn from whoever I can at the moment."

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