The fickleness of South Africa rugby is of such a nature that Thomas du Toit is already under immense pressure in 2018 … and it’s only the third week of the new Super Rugby campaign.
The 22-year-old prop was one of the scapegoats for the Sharks’ opening defeat against the Lions, primarily because he got hammered in the scrums by the wily Jacques van Rooyen.
It was Du Toit’s first game at tighthead, a switch that received the Springbok setup’s blessing but has raised question marks.
That said, Sharks coach Robert du Preez is correct in stating that it’s premature to judge his versatile forward.
Another factor that also needs to be taken into account is that Du Toit had an inexperienced loosehead in Juan Schoeman next to him as well, which hardly helped his cause.
As a result, all the stakeholders in the plan for him will hope the return of Bok veteran Beast Mtawarira to the starting line-up will have a positive effect.
A man of Mtawarira’s stature is, after all, the type of quality support Du Toit should be used to if he wants to mingle with the best.
There’s also some debate over whether the Waratahs, the Sharks’ opponents for their first home game of 2018 on Saturday, will provide the type of stern examination that the Lions did in the tight phases.
Mtawarira though is not convinced.
“The Waratahs still have an experienced pack,” said the 32-year-old prop.
“It’s not the best idea to look at what happened in their match last week against the Stormers. This week is a new challenge. We also need to tick that box this weekend and improve because we didn’t scrum well in our first game.”
In fact, scrumming has been a focus point in Durban this past week.
“We really weren’t happy with our showing against the Lions,” said Mtawarira.
“It was sub-standard. It’s been about the basics, just rectifying the mistakes we’ve identified and achieving cohesion.”
Sharks: Lwazi Mvovo, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Sbu Nkosi, Robert du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Keegan Daniel, Tyler Paul, Jacques Vermeulen, Stephan Lewies, Ruan Botha (c), Thomas du Toit, Franco Marais, Beast Mtawarira. Bench: Akker van der Merwe, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Hyron Andrews, Tera Mtembu, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Curwin Bosch.