Seasoned Springbok loose-forward Francois Louw was left in awe of team-mate, Pieter-Steph du Toit, following Saturday’s Rugby Championship win against Australia at Ellis Park.
Both men enjoyed memorable outings as the Bok class of 2019 kicked off their campaign, in this World Cup year, with an emphatic and fully deserving 35-17 win against Michael Cheika’s men.
While Louw delivered a quality outing himself at No 8, it was the performance of Du Toit as blindside flank that had the Bath-based man gushing.
“I said to Pieter-Steph after the game that I think I have a new hero in my rugby book,” said Louw.
“He had that blindside break, the chip-and-chase ... from which we scored a try; he’s just a phenomenal rugby player, an absolute work-horse. He’s a great guy to have in the team.”
Louw and Du Toit are just two of several loose-forwards in coach Rassie Erasmus’ expanded Bok squad fighting for a place in the World Cup squad that will feature in Japan later this year. Also in the mix are the likes of Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Rynhardt Elstadt, Marcell Coetzee, Marco van Staden and currently injured men Siya Kolisi, Warren Whiteley, Dan du Preez and also Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
“It’s a tough position for the coach to be in, but a good position for the Boks to be in,” said Louw about the talent at loose-forward. He added the depth in the current squad was the best he’d seen since his involvement with the national side.
“The depth in this Bok squad is the best I’ve seen leading into a year,” said the veteran. “There are a lot of combinations that can be selected.”
Regarding his own chances of making that final Japan-bound squad, Louw was philosophical. “It’s fantastic being back in the mix, it’s always nice. I had an average season for Bath, and I believe there are exciting times ahead. I don’t think we could have asked for a better start to the Rugby Championship and the year.
“We’re all in it for the same goal, the same objective. Of course we all want to start and be in the World Cup squad, but mostly, we all want the team to win.”
Louw is one of several players who featured in Saturday night’s five try to two romp of the Wallabies who’ll join 14 other Boks already in New Zealand to prepare for the All Blacks clash this coming Saturday. He’ll fly out with some of his team-mates on Sunday evening, while another group will also fly out to New Zealand on Monday.
“It’s going to be another big Test for us. They’ll ask different questions, but it’s always exciting playing against the All Blacks.”