Bloemfontein - Thomas du Toit may well be new at tighthead prop, but according to Springbok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot he fast becoming a real asset to the national side.
Du Toit switched across the scrum at the beginning of the season and is on a steep learning curve, but has progressed well enough for him to be considered for Saturday’s second Test against England. While Frans Malherbe is favoured to start in the ahead of Du Toit, both are likely to be in the mix with Wilco Louw set to get a breather this weekend after two consecutive games in two weeks on two continents.
Proudfoot believes Du Toit “has the personality” to become a tighthead great, and is learning a lot in the Springbok environment.
“Every prop has ups and downs. But I think he is coming along very well. He is learning a lot,” Proudfoot told SuperSport.com.
“It is nice having Schalk (Brits) in the team, it brings a new understanding and him passing on that knowledge in the scrums and you see the young guys drawing from it and that is the environment we want to create. Thomas is taking that on board and people wonder if he can be a tighthead or not. He has the personality to be. It is my job to make him that and I think he is good at it.”
Proudfoot underlined the fact that the Boks will “chop and change” their front row combinations in order to try and find the right combination ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“We will chop and change and evolve that to give everybody a chance to see what is our best 32 or 33-man team. That is the process we are in at the moment and we will continue that in the next 18 months that when we rock up at the World Cup we are exactly sure who are the best six props.
“We will take them to the World Cup. I want the front row to be in the mindset that in every game we will improve and we will find the best six props through that process.”
The bottom line is that players need to be dynamic and that has been a prominent feature of Rassie Erasmus’ sides thus far.
“The game is about attack and defence. Set phases are just a starting point. It is about attack and defence and if you don’t have dynamic players in those two situations, then you can’t have a dynamic team. We are looking for every single player in our team to improve his attack or defence," Proudfoot added.
“That is the dynamism that we are looking for as a team. Beast’s ability to carry is fantastic, Steven’s ability to steal is dynamic. Thomas adds intensity as a tighthead and every player has that dynamism and that is what we are looking to increase in our players.”
The Bok team will be announced on Thursday.