Sharks coach Robert du Preez hails Thomas du Toit
Coach Robert du Preez lambasted his players last week but he could not stop gushing about them after his Sharks team downed the Stormers 24-17 at King’s Park.
Tighthead prop Thomas du Toit was the recipient of the most lavish praise as the coach underlined how long a week can be in the professional game.
“I’ve always said that Thomas has incredible talent‚” said Du Preez about the man of the match.
“He just has to persevere.
"It is easy to turn around after one or two games that didn’t go his way to make changes – move him back to loosehead.
"He showed that he can become the best tighthead in the world‚” said Du Preez to a mildly bemused audience.
In fact‚ opposing coach Robbie Fleck needed convincing his side was on the backfoot in the scrum.
“I thought they held us at times. I thought we were dominant there. When we had that last penalty we should have gone for a scrum because we were scrumming them.
"It was an improved performance from the Sharks. I thought we had the dominant scrum‚” Fleck reiterated.
Either way‚ Du Toit and his fellow forwards were in the ascendancy for most of the game as the Sharks improved on the lacklustre effort that saw them crash to the Bulls a week earlier.
“We are happy with the win. I think it was a great performance from the boys. As bad as it was last week‚ this was outstanding. To come back from a defeat like that and put together a performance like this‚ I’m happy with this.
“The defence was very good. There were some fantastic dominant hits. That is always a tell tale of a team’s commitment and attitude.”
Du Preez however acknowledged that his team made it harder than it should have been to subdue the Stormers.
“We know we left a few tries out there. I think we need to be more patient with ball in hand. There were a couple of times we were looking for the offload in 50/50 situations. We are a good team when we put multiple phases together.”
When asked why his team had operated at opposite ends of the performance scale on consecutive weeks Du Preez looked inward.
“In hindsight‚ we probably worked the boys too hard in the week leading up to the Bulls‚ after a four-week tour.
"It takes time to get back into the rhythm of South Africa. We made sure their energy levels were right up there.”
Du Preez also had praise for centre Lukhanyo Am and wing Makazole Mapimpi.
“Luk was outstanding‚" he said.
"He is going to play many Tests for the Springboks.
“Makazole was very‚ very good. He was unlucky not to have scored a try.”
The Sharks have had a topsy-turvy campaign and the coach is hoping they can bottle the elements that contributed to their success against the Stormers.
He said the standard they set against their compatriots is worth aiming for in future.
“Yes‚ yes. We can’t go backwards now. We’ve got op build on this performance.”