Franco Mostert in action for the Springboks against France. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Franco Mostert in action for the Springboks against France. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
South Africa's Pieter-Steph du Toit, center, is tackled by Argentina's Los Pumas Marcos Kremer, right, and Enrique Pieretto, left, during a Rugby Championship match in Salta, Argentina. Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo
South Africa's Pieter-Steph du Toit, center, is tackled by Argentina's Los Pumas Marcos Kremer, right, and Enrique Pieretto, left, during a Rugby Championship match in Salta, Argentina. Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo

A nice headache to have. That is how Springbok coach Allister Coetzee would answer the question of who he should select to partner Eben Etzebeth in the second row for Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks in Albany (9.35am kickoff).

Captain Etzebeth will be in the No 4 jersey, but should it be Franco Mostert or Pieter-Steph du Toit at No 5? There is even Lood de Jager in the background, doing some serious thinking about his relative fall from grace, but he is unlikely to be in the running for a starting berth.

Mostet, the workhorse who has been consistently reliable for the Lions and Boks all year was given a rotational break against the Wallabies last week and Du Toit, who has been up and down this year for both province and country, seized his opportunity and turned in a high-calibre performance.

He grasped his chance and was all over the show, either on the charge with ball in hand, taking clean lineout ball, putting in big hits or hitting rucks with intensity.

It was the kind of performance that we expect from a 25-year-old of his pedigree and physical dimensions.

Heck, when he was at the Sharks, John Plumtree said that they had to have special grips put on the bars in the gym for Du Toit because his hands were too big for the standard barbells. “Hands like hubcaps,” as Plumtree put it regarding the grandson of the famously powerful Springbok prop of the 1960s Piet “Spiere (muscles)” du Toit.

But after 26 Tests and a move from Durban back to Cape Town, has Du Toit lived up to his billing?

Yes and no. He has had his good games and others where he has tended towards anonymity.

South Africa's Pieter-Steph du Toit, center, is tackled by Argentina's Los Pumas Marcos Kremer, right, and Enrique Pieretto, left, during a Rugby Championship match in Salta, Argentina. Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo


In the other corner, so to speak, has been Mostert, who has been the heart and soul of the Lions pack, and also of the Boks this year when he was given a chance. The ultimate team man, Mostert just puts his head down and gets on with it. No airs and graces. Just 110 percent hard work - match after match. His work ethic is epic.

De Jager, arguably the best Bok forward at the 2015 World Cup, has not reached those heights since, and perhaps he will have watched Du Toit’s stand-out performance last week and will be inspired to lift his game.

There will come a time when even a machine like Etzebeth will need a break.

But for now, does Coetzee go for the dependable workhorse in Mostert or the stallion that blows that hot and cold, in Du Toit?

I don’t think there should be too much of a debate. While Du Toit is potentially a world beater, you can bank on Mostert.

Du Toit needs to deliver more consistently, and if that has to be off the bench, so be it. He has had his chances to cement his place since making his debut in November 2013, against Wales in Cardiff.

Mostert should start against the All Blacks. We know we will get blood and guts, and honest endeavour from him.

For now, Du Toit should take heart from his outstanding performance against the Wallabies, enjoy his renewed confidence and self-belief, and work his way back into a regular starting position.

Mostert got there by sheer hard labour and patience. Maybe it came too easy for the hyped Du Toit when he was a youngster. Either way he knows he has a fight on his hands if he wants to start for the Boks, and that can only be a good thing for the national team.

Cape Times

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