Sharks tighthead prop Thomas “The Tank” du Toit is anticipating a very demanding Rainbow Cup opener against a Stormers team who are in a “better space than they have ever been”.
The two coastal sides kick off the local version of the PRO14 competition at 2 pm on Saturday at Cape Town Stadium.
This comes after the cross-hemisphere fixtures were called off as South African franchises couldn’t travel to the UK due to the heightened restrictions caused by SA’s designation as a “red list” territory in terms of Covid-19 risk assessment.
Du Toit says the cancellation of the overseas leg of the tournament did not dampen the spirit in his camp in Durban and instead offered them more time to prepare for this weekend’s duel in the Cape.
“It wasn’t the biggest of disruptions.
“We took the time and went away for the one night and I think it did us very good,” said Du Toit.
“We have got some good training and more time to polish stuff. It was actually not the worst thing in the world.”
The last time the two sides met was in a Currie Cup semi-final (against Western Province) in January and the Durban-based franchise emerged victorious.
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Saturday’s clash will also see the Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi facing his former side for the first time since his move to the Sharks in February.
“Obviously Stormers are always quality side and I think the plans they have put in place and the people that they’ve got there put them in a better space than they have been previously,” said Du Toit.
“They are a fantastic side and they’ve got a good pack and good game-plans. They are still going to be a proper challenge.”
Du Toit also looks forward to square off against the star-studded Stormers front row that boasts World Cup winners in Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff.
“It’s such a nice challenge to have against these guys because you measure yourself against the best and for every rugby player that is what you want to do. Not necessarily to prove yourself but to measure yourself up with the best in the world. I think that’s the best opportunity for us.”
Stormers v Sharks — 2 pm
Bulls v Lions — 7 pm