Pieter-Steph du Toit (Gallo)
- WP and the Stormers are prepared for life without star forward Pieter-Steph du Toit.
- The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year has signed a contract with Toyota Verblitz in Japan.
- WP chairperson Ebrahim Rasool says that “no one is irreplaceable”.
It has been a long time coming, but the news that Pieter-Steph du Toit has put pen to paper with Japanese outfit Toyota Verblitz finally brings an end to his time at Western Province and the Stormers.
Given his status as one of the world’s best players – Du Toit was named 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year – the 29-year-old has been a key asset for the Stormers in recent seasons.
He was at the centre of a major transfer saga last year when, during the height of the lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic, the union fought tooth and nail to keep their man for another season.
With the move to the northern hemisphere and South Africa’s participation in European competition pushed back because of the virus, the truth is that the extra year of Du Toit benefitted the Stormers very little.
Du Toit was with the Boks during the Currie Cup campaign, and he is currently recovering from a shoulder injury.
Addressing media on Thursday, WP chairperson Ebrahim Rasool revealed that the union had done all it could to keep hold of Du Toit but that, ultimately, the player’s wishes had to be respected.
“I think it’s one of those acquisitions where we fought hard to keep him. We gave it our best,” said Rasool.
“At the end of the day, the player’s choice is a very important one that we must respect.
“That’s the attitude we are taking. We are now beginning to look at the merits of Junior Pokomela, Evan Roos has stepped in brilliantly, Nama Xaba is becoming a sensation on the field … I can go through everyone in the loose forward stock.
“I’m not saying they are where Pieter-Steph du Toit is, but what they do prove is that no one is irreplaceable. It’s desirable but not irreplaceable, and that’s what WP Rugby has been shown this past year.
“We’ve been thrown a hell of a lot of lemons, and we’ve made some lovely lemonade.”
With the United Rugby Championship set to get under way next weekend, the Stormers are only expecting their Springboks back towards the end of the year.
The Stormers’ first match in the URC will take place on 25 September against Italian outfit Benetton in Treviso.