Currie Cup final match-ups: Thomas du Toit vs Lizo Gqoboka
By Ashfak Mohamed, Mike Greenaway 22m ago
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CAPE TOWN – There are some intriguing personal battles which could swing Saturday’s Currie Cup final. Today we take a close look at Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls) vs Thomas du Toit (Sharks).
Lizo Gqoboka and Thomas du Toit are pushing hard for a Springbok squad spot, and producing a dominant performance on Saturday would go a long way to gaining the attention of Bok coach Jacques Nienaber.
Gqoboka has had to bide his time as a niggling calf injury saw him miss most of the Super Rugby Unlocked tournament and the first half of the Currie Cup as well.
But he has come back with a vengeance in recent weeks, so much so that he forced his way into the Bulls starting team ahead of Jacques van Rooyen. The 30-year-old loosehead has proved his worth in the scrums, particularly in last week’s semi-final against the Lions.
He dominated Jannie du Plessis early on and won a few penalties, and stood strong against muchvaunted scrummager Carlu Sadie as well.
Gqoboka is renowned for his mobility as a No 1, with a high workrate in ball-carrying and defence, while he also cleans out rucks with a smile.
While not the biggest front-rower at 1.82m and 117kg, his compact frame may come in handy against a giant like Du Toit, who is 1.89m and weighs between 128kg and 136kg.
Smaller loosehead props are able to “get under” taller tightheads, thereby popping them out of the scrum – which is technically not allowed, but which often happens as a result of the force generated by the entire pack on the left-hand side.
Much will depend on whether Gqoboka can create the “right picture” for referee Jaco Peyper. – Ashfak Mohamed
THOMAS DU TOIT
Most Sharks fans would reckon Curwin Bosch is their team’s most valuable player given his goal-kicking exploits, and boy does the flyhalf deserve the plaudits, but the savvy would point out the incalculable value of Thomas “The Tank” du Toit in the heart of the engine room.
That is what makes rugby such a unique team sport — you have the glamour boys at the back earning the roars of the crowd and then you have the unsung heroes in the front row busting a gut to provide quality possession for the likes of Bosch.
A shaky set-piece has a ripple effect that puts the loose trio under pressure and then that filters all the way through to the fullback.
This has been the case for the Sharks when Du Toit has not played this season. The Sharks do not have good depth at tighthead prop — the cornerstone of the set scrum — and when Du Toit has been absent the Sharks’ set-piece has wobbled.
The 25-year-old has been absent, at various times, because of a calf injury, a thigh strain and, latterly, Covid-19; and indeed this week started with him under an injury cloud because of a heavy knock he took last week in the semi-final.
So the news that he has now been cleared to play is a huge boost for the Sharks. It is not just his physical dimensions that are so useful but also the psychological lift the Springbok gives his teammates that is so important to the Sharks. – MIke Greenaway