Friday 18 October 2019

Munster methods left a big mark on 'Thomas the Tank'

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus (pictured) has called up Thomas du Toit to join the squad in Japan. Photo: Adrian Dennius/Getty Images
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus (pictured) has called up Thomas du Toit to join the squad in Japan. Photo: Adrian Dennius/Getty Images
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

When Thomas du Toit's phone rang last Sunday morning, he wasn't expecting to see Rassie Erasmus' number flash up on the screen.

The 24-year-old had just settled into life in France before he got the call to travel to Japan as an injury replacement for Trevor Nyakane.

After he returned to South Africa following his short 2016/'17 stint with Munster, Du Toit focused all of his energy on making the World Cup squad, but was then overlooked for the initial 31-man group.

That was part of the reason he left Munster in the first place and while he was only there on a short-term contract, he made such an impression that the club were prepared to retain him for longer.

Nicknamed 'Thomas the Tank', Du Toit is a powerful prop who played six times for Munster during his three-month stint.

It may only have been a short period but it was one that changed him for the better.

"I liked it in Limerick a lot, the place we stayed and the boys I was playing with," Du Toit (right) said after arriving in Japan.

"It was an awesome time. It was very different and I learned a lot. It's definitely something I reflect a lot on, my time there. It was very important for me to go there and spend some time with coach Rassie and (it was) a different experience.

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"It opened my eyes up to a different style of rugby and more preparation-wise that we might lack a bit in South Africa in our unions. It was a lot more detail-orientated. It was just different."

Before he recently joined Toulouse as a medical joker, Du Toit very nearly ended up back in Ireland but his move to Ulster was called off after the northern province opted to focus their attention on their home-grown props.

The former Sharks man still keeps in regular contact with CJ Stander and Jean Kleyn, while he also struck up a good friendship with Robin Copeland.

Cian Tracey

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