Coetzee defends the selection of lock Pieter-Steph du Toit at blindside flank
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee defended the selection of lock Pieter-Steph du Toit at blindside flank for Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks at Newlands despite previous evidence not auguring well.
Du Toit first started at No 7 as a late replacement for Willem Alberts at the opening game of Rugby World Cup 2015 against Japan at Brighton.
The Boks lost on a day when Du Toit’s size and bulk counted against him.
That was under previous coach Heyneke Meyer.
Coetzee selected Du Toit at blindside against England at Twickenham last year and if anything he was more ineffectual than against Japan.
Cringingly‚ Du Toit was twice beaten in one-on-one tackles by scrumhalf Ben Youngs that led to tries for England.
It was a chastening experience for the highly talented Du Toit.
“I can’t comment on the performance against Japan‚ but yes‚ against England it maybe didn’t go well on the defensive front‚” Coetzee admitted.
“But ever since then he has grown and improved a lot. I think you’ll see a much-improved Pieter-Steph on the flank this Saturday.
“He’s made a real conscious effort to be prepared to face a running a scrumhalf‚ which presents challenges on defence.
"Being a tall man‚ he understands what to expect now‚ and we’ve worked at his body position and ensuring that with the guys around him‚ he stays within the mini unit.”
Du Toit’s shift to the side of the scrum sees Francois Louw pack down at No 8‚ something he did on defence a few times during last week’s 27-27 draw against Australia in Bloemfontein.
The reshuffle also sees lock Lood de Jager return to the starting lineup to add to the Boks’ lineout options after they lost five of their own throws against the All Blacks in Albany three weeks ago.
The match ended in a record 57-0 defeat.
“The plan is just to get the ball‚” Coetzee said.
“If you also look at Lood starting‚ it’s part of ensuring that we have the right options out there.
“We have Franco Mostert providing impact off the bench.
"Lood is an experienced lineout forward‚ and with Pieter-Steph there too‚ you can see that there is quality for our lineout plan.
“We have to have an improvement at lineout time‚ Lood is an experienced player and he should add value in terms of both attacking and defensive lineouts‚ while Pieter-Steph will just add another option at the back.
"At the end of the day‚ you have to have loosies that can jump [at the lineout]‚ especially now that Uzair Cassiem is out.”