VIDEO: With a 'machine' like this, Boks will be fine
REACTION: The Springboks may not have played for 19 months, but the form of several key players suggest they will pose a real threat to the British and Irish Lions.
The Boks are in an alignment camp this week, following Round Four of the South African conference of the Rainbow Cup.
It would have been a relieved national coach, Jacques Nienaber, and SA Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, that would have welcomes the players into camp.
The form of key players like Pieter-Steph du Toit, captain Siyamthanda Kolisi and Duane Vermeulen has significantly lifted the mood in the country ahead of the arrival of the British and Irish Lions in July.
World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit has recovered fully from the career-threatening leg injury he suffered early last year.
Such has been his form in the last month that Stormers coach John Dobson described the 28-year-old World Cup-winning loose forward as “an absolute machine”.
Given that doctors, at one stage, feared he could lose his leg as the result of a hematoma that developed into a rare acute compartment syndrome, his performances this month has been nothing short of miraculous.
“Those first two games [back] he played were remarkable and it was as if the guy had never been injured,” Stormers coach John Dobson said of Du Toit’s outings since his comeback.
“I am not even sure this was his best of the three games,” Dobson said, after the Stormers edged the Sharks 25-22 in Durban at the weekend.
“I would suggest he that he was a bit quieter [against the Sharks at the weekend] than he was in his first two games [against Sharks and the Bulls].”
Du Toit was rested in the game against the Lions at Ellis Park, as part of the national team strategy of SA Rugby.
“He’s an absolute remarkable machine. [Producing] 80 minutes of that is great for South African rugby,” the Stormers coach said.
Du Toit was not the only high-profile World Cup winner to have found his form.
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Bok skipper Siyamthanda Kolisi has also improved significantly since he arrived in Durban from Cape Town earlier this year.
He may have been on the losing side this time round, but still did enough to earn rave reviews from Sharks coach Sean Everitt.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt said Kolisi’s form is gathering momentum at the right time for the Springboks.
“Siya was really good,” Everitt said of the flank’s performance in the loss to the Stormers.
“He got two steals and he had two big moments in a row in the build-up to Yaw Penxe’s try,” the coach said of a move that saw him breaking a tackle and making an offload to set up Penxe.
“He was really good in the match [against the Stormers].
“He had a good week, and he is getting better and better.
“I am just happy that he put in a really good performance and he deserves it because he is working really hard.”
Everitt spoke about the scrums as well, which saw some improved form from a couple of Bok hopefuls.
“Ox [Retshegofaditswe Nché] and Thomas [du Toit] are putting their hands up for [selection] for the British and Irish Lions,” the Sharks coach said.
He added that SA rugby is “definitely” in a good space.
“The World Cup players just got better and better,” the Sharks coach said, adding: “That is good for South African rugby.
“Earlier in the year, it was a concern that Siya [Kolisi] wasn’t playing well.
“He got over his injuries and I think he is almost back to his best.”
Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen also joined the chorus of voices suggesting that the Boks will be in good shape in July.
“All four teams [in the Rainbow Cup] are competitive and it is healthy, good competition,” Van Rooyen said.
“[Springboks coach] Jacques [Nienaber] said it and SA Director of Rugby] Rassie [Erasmus] said it, when we start playing against the overseas opponents we will start seeing the effect of our physicality and the way we defend.
“We really put the [opposition’s] skillsets under pressure.”
Picture credit: @THESTORMERS