‘Rolling with the punches’ is the norm for South African rugby right now, says Sharks’ Thomas du Toit
South African rugby players are so used to disruption these days that they “simply roll with the punches”, says heavyweight Sharks prop Thomas du Toit.
Last week, the Sharks were to meet the Stormers in a Rainbow Cup match only for the competition to undergo an overhaul, which meant the game now takes place on Saturday in the Rainbow Cup SA.
The teams had already had games between them cancelled in the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions because of Covid-19 outbreaks in the Sharks camp.
“In these times everyone needs to be ready and rolling with the punches so it was not too much of a disruption,” he said of last week’s game being paused.
“I think for some players it is a disappointment in that we want to challenge other opposition and test ourselves against overseas players, but there is such good competition around South Africa that we should still have great preparation for the series against the British and Irish Lions,” Du Toit said.
“It is not the end of the world. It is what it is and we are just rolling with the punches.”
The extra week of preparation has also allowed several Sharks players to get over injury niggles, and it certainly helps the Sharks’ cause to have first-choice loosehead prop Ox Nche now fit and available after an ankle problem.
The Sharks can do with all the front row depth they can muster given they will likely be squaring up to the Springbok World Cup winning front row of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi.
“We went away for the Friday night (that the game was to be played on) and did some polishing up on a few things, so it definitely wasn’t the worst thing to happen to us,” Du Toit said.
Du Toit said that the players had learnt that nothing in the rugby calendar is cast in stone any more.
“The mindset has stayed the same as what it was towards the end of last season when there were so many changes.
“We are taking everything week by week, and every game as it comes. We are not looking too far into the future. In fact, we are steering away from thinking too far ahead.”
The Sharks forwards do not need the ability to see into the future to know they face a mighty battle.
“Their whole pack has serious quality,” Du Toit said.
“They’ve got some major players back from when we last played them (in the Currie Cup semi-final) and maybe they are in a better space than they were previously.
“We haven’t played them much in the past year but we know exactly what to expect up front,” he added.