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Patience needed with du Toit


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 3 Sep 2015 at 10:06
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thomas du Toit has been in the spotlight a fair bit so far this Currie Cup season as his tricky conversion to tight head prop plays out at senior level. With the 20-year-old behemoth, perhaps not surprisingly, struggling to adapt to the technical intricacies of the more difficult scrumming position, many have questioned the wisdom of pursuing the move in the first place.

Bursting onto the scene as a raw 19-year-old last year, du Toit was fantastic as a debutant at loosehead and while concerns around mobility and weights have prompted the move to the opposite side of the scrum, it would take a brave man to argue that on current form, he isn’t hands down the best loosehead available to this depleted Sharks squad. The desire to switch position, though, has come from the player himself and one can tell that his aims are perhaps a little loftier than simply establishing himself as first choice in the Currie Cup squad; in interviews this week, the youngster has expressed an admiration for Jannie du Plessis as player and role model and it is reasonably straightforward to read between the lines and determine that du Toit sees himself as natural successor to the Bethlehem doctor, in the number 3 jersey for both the Sharks and the Springboks.

That Thomas du Toit wants to be a Bok goes without saying and as one of the most talented players to have emerged on the local scene in a number of years, I would argue that it’s a question of “when”, not “if”, that call up comes. Having a look at the competition (and the lack of all that many “monster” tightheads) you can’t really blame him for seeing an easier route to green and gold should he specialise at 3; Beast Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane and the bizarrely underrated Lizo Gqoboka are all still very much in the national frame at 1 and du Toit arguably stands little chance of unseating the former even at provincial level.

Where things get complicated is that the Sharks, in the midst of yet another slump, need to rely heavily on those players in their squad with proven start quality. Du Toit stands head and shoulders above the rest in this category and as such they simply cannot afford to not involve him in the senior side – even if the under 21 ranks might be a more suitable place to learn his new position. Picking him at loosehead for the remainder of the season would be a short term move and to Gary Gold and John Smit’s credit, they seem hell-bent on not making any such moves (much to impatient fans’ chagrin!). The initial plan was for Thomas, in “super sub” role, to cover both positions (but primarily tighthead) off the bench, allowing him to adjust to the position after Lourens Adriaanse had done the necessary first half damage. Adriaanse’s season-curtailing injury has exposed a shocking lack of depth at prop and just as we can question the absence of a senior tighthead in the ranks to stand in for Adriaanse, we should question why nobody other than du Toit is able to step up and pressure the shaky Dale Chadwick on the other side of the scrum.

As fans, though, we need to separate the Sharks’ lack of planning from the phenomenal heart, character and undoubted talent of Thomas du Toit. This young man is a superstar in every sense of the word and we are proud that he has chosen to make Durban his home. He needs out backing, our patience and all of our support as he turns himself into the next great South African tighthead prop.



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