Powerful Sharks prop Thomas du Toit says he is looking forward to renewing his ‘friendly’ rivalry with opposite number Wilco Louw in this Saturday’s final at Kings Park, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The scrum battle between the two burly props – who both weigh in around 130kgs – is set to be one of the most highly-anticipated duels in this weekend’s title decider.
Louw has enjoyed a stellar season for the Stormers and Western Province, which ultimately saw him earn a deserved Springbok call-up and eventually a first Test cap in the final Rugby Championship encounter against the All Blacks in Cape Town.
It’s also already been a year to remember for Du Toit, who has found the sort of form that has seen him provide considerable competition to Springbok veteran Beast Mtawarira in Super Rugby, while featuring for South Africa A against the French Barbarians in June.
Du Toit also spent some time in the Bok camp when he was called up to provide front-row cover ahead of the final Rugby Championship Test, where he was reunited with ‘old’ friend and foe, Louw.
‘I know Wilco quite well, going back to when I was at school in the Cape, and we actually came up against each other in athletics circles,’ Du Toit commented. ‘But I’ve also scrummed a few times against Wilco, and it’s nice to have a friend to scrum against.
‘We’ve become quite close after our time with the SA U20s, and now at the Bok camp. There’s always a cauliflower brotherhood in the front row, so we stick together, and the one thing I will have to get him back for is the snoring in the room,’ he added with a chuckle.
On the serious side, this Saturday’s scrum battle is sure to be a key factor in this Saturday’s final, and Du Toit admitted he needed to be ready for one of the biggest tests of his young career.
‘You have to give credit where it’s due,’ Du Toit said. ‘Western Province have a very good pack and I think Wilco is the anchor there. He must be one of the best scrummagers in South Africa at the moment, and I’m happy for him, but obviously everything will be put aside when we take to the field.’
This is set to be the eighth domestic final between these two teams, with Province having emerged victorious in four of those matches, while the Sharks have won three.
Du Toit said there was certainly some nervous excitement in the Sharks camp as they get set to take on their fierce coastal rivals once again.
‘Playing against Province is always a special occasion, it doesn’t matter in what sort of game, but this being a final ensures it will be a cracker. When we play Province, it’s not necessarily a grudge match, but it’s definitely personal.
‘This will be the most important game of my life, and I think that’s the mentality we will all go in with. There’s nothing more important than your next game, and that’s the way I’m going to prepare for it.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images