Christchurch - Pieter-Steph du Toit faces one of the biggest tests of his young career when he takes charge of the Springbok lineout in the Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks here on Saturday. And, Lions hooker Malcolm Marx, too, could be set for a debut.
The 24-year-old Du Toit whose career has been blighted by injury will take over the No 5 jersey from the injured Lood de Jager and be the leader of the lineout. It is a job Du Toit has done before in his 14 Tests, but more recently he has been used from off the bench.
He says it makes little difference. “I’ve been coming on to make an impact in the last 20 minutes and it’s gone well, but now I have to make an impact from the start, for 70 minutes or 80 minutes,” he said at the Bok team hotel here on Tuesday afternoon.
While captain Adriaan Strauss’ form has been questioned this year, there can be no denying the one department that has gone well for the team is the lineouts. The Boks have won well over 95% of their own throw-ins, for the best return of all the teams in the competition.
And on Saturday, Strauss will not only have Du Toit and Eben Etzebeth to aim at, but Warren Whiteley, Oupa Mohoje and Francois Louw, too, all of them recognised lineout jumpers, as well as Franco Mostert and Willem Alberts later on.
Alberts, recalled this week after the injury to Lood de Jager, is almost certainly going to fill a spot on the replacements bench and joining him could be hooker Marx, too.
The 22-year-old Lions man has been waiting for his turn since joining the squad at the start of the Rugby Championship and may get his chance on Saturday at AMI Stadium.
With Strauss set to call it quits at the end of the year, coach Allister Coetzee will want to give all his back-up hookers time on the Test stage and it is understood this week may be Marx’s turn. He’d replace Bongi Mbonambi on the bench, who would rightly feel aggrieved at losing his place after getting just seven minutes’ playing time in his six benched Tests up to now.
Coetzee will name his matchday squad on Wednesday afternoon. Set to be included in the starting team will be Faf de Klerk who’s recovered from a chest knock, as well as Johan Goosen (ankle) and Eben Etzebeth (thigh), even though neither Goosen nor Etzebeth trained with their teammates on Tuesday.