Robbie Fleck has come out to defend lock Pieter-Steph du Toit ahead of their clash with the Bulls at Loftus tomorrow (3.05pm).
Du Toit, who lost his place in the national team to the Lions’ Franco Mostert earlier this year, was criticised by former Springbok coach Nick Mallett after their 52-15 win over the Sunwolves last weekend.
Fleck, though, says: “The scoreboard said one thing, but from a team perspective and the individual’s perspective we didn’t play to what we wanted to do and our high expectations.
“It’s tough to single out one player in that performance.
“Pieter-Steph is a big Springbok for us… one thing we can’t fault is his work ethic and his work-rate on the field and his ability to get involved.
“When a player is involved in so many aspects of the game, obviously he’s going to be highlighted. He stands out.
“Yes, he made mistakes but so did everyone else in that game.
“We just got to keep encouraging him. Obviously he wants to perform well for the team.
“He’s not worried about what Nick says or if he is going to make the Springboks or not, he’s concerned about performing well for us.”
While Du Toit will be out to prove that he is still one to be feared in the middle of the engine room, having lock partner Eben Etzebeth back for the clash will no doubt ease the pressure.
Etzebeth missed the match against the Sunwolves last weekend because of flu and returns to the starting XV along with prop Frans
Malherbe, who also sat out because of griep.
In the other change to the pack, flanker Rynhardt Elstadt returns to take the place of Juarno Augustus, who drops out of the match 23 altogether.
Centre Juan de Jongh and No.8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe also return to the match-day squad and will play off the bench at Loftus.