Rugby 6.9.2018 06:19 pm

Why Pieter-Steph is the Springboks’ most important player in Brisbane

Trump card? Pieter-Steph du Toit. (Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)

Trump card? Pieter-Steph du Toit. (Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)

It may not be immediately apparent but the gritty, versatile forward’s selection is actually a pretty big gamble.

Pieter-Steph du Toit himself won’t say so but the reality is he’s arguably going to be the most important player for the Springboks in Saturday’s Rugby Championship meeting with the Wallabies in Brisbane.

The versatile 25-year-old has been picked at blindside flank for the clash, a position that’s increasingly becoming his forte due to South Africa’s depth at lock.

Yet Du Toit’s selection is a two-edged sword.

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On the positive side, the Stormers star provides much-needed balance to the Boks’ loose trio.

Warren Whiteley and Siya Kolisi are both known more for their finesse and ball-carrying skills, perhaps lacking the mongrel of a true enforcer such as Willem Alberts or Duane Vermeulen.

Those two men need an uncompromising, physical teammate to complement them … and they have that in Du Toit.

“It’s an unbelievable privilege to be part of the starting team again,” he said, having been relegated to bench duty against Argentina in Mendoza.

Even then, he shone on gloomy day for the South Africans.

“It was a tough week after Mendoza. We changed our preparation to suit the late evening kickoff. It’s going to be an interesting battle.”

Indeed, the battle does become interesting when it’s taken into account that the Wallabies will have David Pocock and Michael Hooper in their loose trio.

In fact, the term “interesting” is perhaps too neutral.

National coach Rassie Erasmus has patently taken a gamble in selecting Du Toit in his role.

It leaves the Boks short of men who can attack the breakdowns, especially with Malcolm Marx and Francois Louw only coming off the bench.

Will that mean they come on too late to compete with Pocock and Hooper, who are renowned for their poaching abilities?

And how will a lack of a fetcher affect the Boks in terms of referee Glen Jackson, a man with strong views on how to police the breakdown.

Either way, Du Toit and co will have to find shrewd ways of negating the duo or just physically overpower them.

“The Wallabies have two of the best flankers in world rugby, especially at the breakdowns. That area has been a focus for us this whole week, so we’re prepared for that. Nonetheless, we’re going to have to up our game there too.”

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