Gatland anticipating Pieter-Steph du Toit position shift
Moving Pieter-Steph du Toit to lock is not the worst idea in the world. In fact, British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland believes it holds certain benefits to the Springboks.
The option is the star loose forward, Du Toit, changing positions emerged after another painful injury update from the Bok camp at the weekend.
Rudolph Snyman is in doubt for the Test series after having to undergo a skin graft on burn wounds on his legs – the result of a bizarre fire pit incident, involving Bok teammate Damian De Allende and two Munster teammates.
Eben Etzebeth, another World Cup-winning second row forward, suffered a rib injury during South Africa’s 40-9 win over Georgia last Friday.
Another member of the victorious World Cup second row club, Lodewyk de Jager, has returned to training and could make his comeback from a series of nasty injuries – a fractured tibia, damaged ankle and torn medial meniscus – when South African A face British and Irish Lions on July 14.
However, the option of shifting Du Toit to the second row remains on the table. Gatland described Du Toit, the 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year, as “world-class”.
“He has had a lot of time in the second row before,” the B&I Lions coach said.
The issues around the Boks’ lock stocks are well-documented and Gatland is well aware of South Africa’s backup players.
“They will be looking to get their best players on the park,” the B&I Lions coach told a virtual media briefing. “If they move him [Du Toit] to the second row, it gives them potentially more mobility.
“They have some quality loose forwards to cover him [in the back row]. Whatever team South Africa puts out, they will be tough and we realise that.”
The B&I Lions face the Sharks in their second tour match at Ellis Park on Wednesday, followed by the clash against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
The circus then moves to Cape Town – where they will face SA A and the Stormers, before the first Test on July 24.
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