Sharks will hope ‘Ox’ and ‘The Tank’ emulate two Bok legends

Ox Nche. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The two strongmen are already dovetailing nicely as a front-row combination … and their strengths aren’t confined to just the scrums.

Nostalgia and, more pertinently, hoping for a repeat of history isn’t always a good thing in rugby.

Yet it’s difficult not to tempted into thinking that in Ox Nche and Thomas ‘The Tank’ du Toit the Sharks have their new Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis.

The pair of 24-year-old props, who are capped at international level and played together in 2015 for the Junior Springboks, are already seemingly gelling as well together as their two legendary Springbok predecessors, even if the new Super Rugby campaign is only four rounds old.

That was particularly apparent in last week’s fine win over the Rebels, where Nche and Du Toit made a visible difference in improving the Sharks’ set-piece.

Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit during the Junior Springboks training session at Stadio XXV Aprile on June 04, 2015 in Parma, Italy. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

“With them both being Springboks, it certainly makes a difference,” said head coach Sean Everitt, who’s kept the partnership intact for Saturday’s meeting with the Reds in Brisbane.

“In saying that, it’s a team effort. The guys who came on also did a good job.”

Modesty has become the mantra under Everitt, but the impact of Nche and Du Toit is undeniable.

While their scrumming prowess was obvious, their work rate on defence was immense in Ballarat.

Nche completed nine tackles without missing a ball-carrier, while his partner was even more impressive with 12.

Given that hooker Kerron van Vuuren is rapidly establishing himself as South African rugby’s busiest tackler in the No 2 jersey, the Durbanites’ front row isn’t merely an awkward obstacle to try and shove in the scrums, you pretty much can’t get past them in open play.

Thomas du Toit. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)

“It’s really nice to have some continuity in the front row,” said Du Toit, whose ball-poaching efforts have gone into overdrive too following the arrival of a specialist fetcher in the impressive James Venter.

“Ox is an experienced and an amazing loosehead prop. It’s very nice having him in the mix and scrumming together. We’re also spending time together off the field, I don’t think people realise how important that is.

“We haven’t had much time yet, but the time we’ve had we’ve used well. I definitely feel how we’re growing every week and it’s something we’ll definitely build on.”

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