Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit is looking to put a scorching injury behind him and continue to build towards the form he displayed when he won the 2019 World Cup and was named World Rugby Player of the Year, when he faces the All Blacks Saturday.
Du Toit has hardly played rugby for the past two years, after a abnormal leg injury in march 2020 kept him out of rugby until 2021, after which he suffered a serious shoulder injury in the British and Irish Lions series which kept him on the sideline again until the last month.
He finally made his long-awaited return in the second Test against Wales, playing 80 minutes, and followed that up with another full game in the third Test tiebreaker, proving he was back in full form ahead of the Rugby Champs .
“Unfortunately injuries are part of the game and I’ve been injured a lot in the last two years. But the more you train with the team and the more minutes you spend on the pitch, the better off you will be,” Du Toit said. .
“It’s helped me in the past. If you look at 2018 and 2019, I’ve played a lot of rugby and trained a lot, so I think it makes a huge difference in your performance on the pitch. Just by ticking those minutes and leaving the game time behind you.
“I took a lot of confidence from the game in Cape Town (third Welsh Test). I came into the game really well and finished strong. Of course the fitness can always be better and there is always room for improvement.
Du Toit is therefore looking forward to facing the All Blacks again, who he hasn’t played against since 2019, missing both of last year’s games against them in the Rugby Championship in Australia.
“Playing against the All Blacks is always a great opportunity and a challenge. It’s also very nice for us to play them in Nelspruit (Mbombela),” said Du Toit.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to show the public how we have improved. Everyone always compares us to 2019. But time passes and we have to adapt, so hopefully we have adapted and we played a better style for the audience as well as a winning style.
“We don’t focus too much on them, we just focus on ourselves. Playing against New Zealand is always a big challenge and they are always ready for the game, so we have to focus on ourselves and play as we practiced to play.