Although there have been a couple of stints in the back row where Du Toit wasn’t a liability, he’s much better suited at No 5
Stormers forwards coach Russell Winter says they’ve learnt their lessons from last year’s tour to New Zealand and won’t be setting any goals – other than to take it week by week – for their three-match tour to Australasia.
The Stormers will kick off their second Super Rugby match against the Waratahs on Saturday after securing a victory in a tense match against the Jaguares in Cape Town. Following their fixture at the Sydney Football Stadium, Robbie Fleck’s team will travel to New Zealand to play the Crusaders and the Highlanders.
And after what went down when the Stormers faced the Crusaders, the Highlanders and the Hurricanes on tour last year – a tour that saw them suffer massive defeats after an impressive run at home that even included a stunning win over the Chiefs – Winter said that there won’t be any plans to rack up as many log points as possible on tour this time.
Instead, they will focus solely on their date with the ’Tahs.
“We’re just taking it week by week, we’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves. Last year we set ourselves goals and this year or goal is to take it week by week and see how much we can get out of each game. We’re gonna go flat-out for a win this week and hopefully we can put our things together and get one,” he said.
The South Africans kicked-off their Super campaign one week earlier, and although it will be the Waratahs’ first Super Rugby match of the season, Winter doesn’t believe the “improved” Australian team have any reason to worry about playing their season-opener against a team with a game under the belt.
“I don’t think so. The Waratahs have had two games as well against the Rebels and the Highlanders, and although those were warm-up games it will be a similar intensity. So I think when it comes to match fitness and the pace of the game they should be on par. I don’t think we have an advantage because we had Saturday’s game.”
Someone who’s also been playing exciting rugby is Stormers lock JD Schickerling, who started in the second row alongside Chris van Zyl against the Argentinians in Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit’s absence due to injury.
But now Du Toit is fit for their next match.
“It’s great having Pieter-Steph back, it’s such a big boost. He can cover loose forward, he’s very good in the line-outs, but in saying that the locks have been doing very well, not only in the Currie Cup, but now as well. He (Du Toit) can definitely make a big difference to the side, and if he gets chosen on Saturday, I’m excited to see what he brings to the side.”
The Boks have started a questionable trend of playing the international second-row forward at
No 7 flank, although his shortcomings, especially in terms of his speed and defence around the fringes, have been exposed in the past.
And although there have been a couple of stints in the back row where Du Toit wasn’t a liability, he’s much better suited at No 5.
And if it was up to Winter, he would only move the Bok lock to flank in “emergency situations”.
“Personally I see him (Du Toit) as a lock who can cover loose forward (as opposed to a utility forward), but predominantly he’ll play lock. Only in certain games or circumstances will he cover loose forward, but I see him as a lock.
“He’s a very good five lock, he calls the line-outs really well and he adds some mobility to the pack, that’s what you need. With the way the game’s going it’s a fast game, and for me he’s an outstanding lock and just someone who can cover loose forward if we need him in emergencies.”