<
>

Springbok coach Coetzee may move Du Toit to flank after Kriel injury

Pieter-Steph du Toit of the Springboks wins lineout ball during the Rugby Championship match against Australia in Perth. RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/EPA

Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit could be deployed as a flank when the Springboks take on the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship in Albany on Saturday.

The Stormers player looks like the frontrunner to replace Jaco Kriel in the loose trio, after the Lions man returned to South Africa because of a shoulder injury he sustained in the Test against Australia last Saturday.

The industrious Kriel complained of a shoulder problem after the drawn match in Perth. A scan then revealed that Kriel, who has formed a loose-trio combination with Siya Kolisi and Uzair Cassiem in recent weeks, had sustained a labrum tear. Springbok team management has confirmed that no replacement will be called upas the team has sufficient loose-forward cover.

Du Toit and the powerful Jean-Luc du Preez are candidates to start against the All Blacks in the No 7 jersey.

The young Du Preez has been outstanding off the bench this year, providing a lot of physicality and go-forward in the last quarter for the Boks. There is a school of thought that the time has come for him to start for South Africa, especially as the current loose forwards play very similarly.

Du Preez started in the third Test against France earlier this year after captain Warren Whiteley withdrew with a groin injury. The Sharks man was good in the loose, but struggled at lineout time, which has prompted Bok coach Allister Coetzee to start with Cassiem at No 8 in the Rugby Championship in the continued absence of Whiteley.

So, this could open the door for Du Toit to come into the back row as a good lineout option and as a ball-carrier. However, he hasn't quite played his best rugby in this position over the last few years for both the Stormers and the Boks.

Du Toit's mobility as a blindside flank was questioned last year after the defeat byEngland in November, especially after he didn't do enough on cover defence. The All Blacks also have a lot of pace in their back row at the moment.

Du Toit, though, was outstanding against the Wallabies in Perth in his first start of the year. He made a lot of run metres down the middle with smart play around the rucks, while he was also devastating in the lineouts.

The lineout, along with their powerful scrum, is probably an area where the Boks feel they need to target the All Blacks, while they will be looking to get good ball at the tail to attack from.

Meanwhile, Stormers prop Wilco Louw arrived in Auckland late on Monday night as replacement for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen, who returned home with a broken arm following the drawn Test in Perth.

Louw, though, is unlikely to start with Trevor Nyakane and Ruan Dreyer in line to feature against the All Blacks on Saturday.