Springboks barometer: Pieter-Steph du Toit still the business at No 7

Pieter Steph du Toit of South Africa is tackled during the Rugby Championship test match between New Zealand and South Africa

File. After completing 28 tackles in the World Cup final, no one is lifting the 31-year-old machine Pieter-Steph du Toit out of the blindside position any time soon. Picture: Michael Bradley/AFP

Published Feb 9, 2024


With four South African teams set to restart their United Rugby Championship campaigns in a week and looking to secure a play-off spot, a host of players will also get a last chance to impress the Springbok coaches ahead of the international season starting in July.

Double Tests against Ireland and New Zealand await, while an experimental side could feature in a one-off Test against Portugal and a possible friendly with Wales.

Independent Media takes a look at the players who have been impressive so far to secure their place in the Bok squad for the 2024 season.

Here, we feature the blindside flank …

The incumbent: Pieter-Steph du Toit

After completing 28 tackles in the Rugby World Cup final, no one is lifting the 31-year-old machine out of the blindside position any time soon.

He might get a rest here and there, but currently there is no other player in the Bok set-up that comes close to his work-rate on and off the ball.

Du Toit will be an instrumental player in the squad if he is fit and firing for the Tests against the Irish on July 6 and 13 in Pretoria and Durban, and the Rugby Championship later this year, where double home Tests await against the All Blacks in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The contenders: Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Vincent Tshituka, Elrigh Louw

Blindside flank is another position with an abundance of back-ups should the incumbent not play on a certain day. You don’t have to look further than Kwagga Smith, although currently injured, to fill the jersey should Du Toit be absent.

He has the same grit and workhorse-like attitude as Du Toit, added to his accuracy at the breakdown with his ball-stealing technique.

Smith is pushing hard for a starting berth, but the value he adds to the Bomb Squad across all three loose-forward positions is what the Boks have been relying on most.

Mostert is the same, although he is getting closer to retirement age at 33. But he still has a couple of Springbok seasons in him, and hasn’t shown any inkling that he is falling behind the pace required at the top level.

Should the Bok coaches start looking at replacements for him, the Bulls’ Elrigh Louw or Vincent Tshituka at the Sharks can fill those spots. Louw has been knocking on the national door for some time and has put in some strong performances for his side so far this season.

He is a strong runner, but can also play a loose game, while his work towards the ball at the breakdown results in turnover possession. A good second half of the URC can strengthen his case for selection.

Tshituka has been on the Bok radar since 2021, but what hampered him then was the fact that he did not have a South African passport.

Hopefully those problems are behind him, and he is eligible for the Boks. Before his injury, he was exceptional for the Sharks, and has shown the grit needed to make it at the top level.