National interests won the day when the Stormers opted to rest Springbok star Pieter-Steph du Toit for this weekend’s Rainbow Cup SA clash against the Lions at Ellis Park, said coach John Dobson on Friday.
When he named his team for the match in Joburg, Dobson said that with the British and Irish Lions tour around the corner it was more important for Du Toit to rest after coming back from a long term injury in recent weeks.
“We weren’t planning to play Pieter-Steph for 80 minutes in his first game back against the Sharks,” explained Dobson, although the flanker did just that.
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“But because of the cards (we received during the game) we had to play him the full game and then to have him play 160 minutes (in total) after being out for so long, it’s not worth risking him again,” said Dobson.
Medically, Du Toit could have played. “He has a little bit of fluid around that thigh and he has been in a bit of pain, but it’s not the same injury as before,” said Dobson.
“As in the case with centre Ruhan Nel being released to the Sevens, we realise there’s a bigger cause at play here.”
While Du Toit obviously needs more game time after a year-long absence, Dobson said it was crucial to find the right balance which is best for the player, for the Stormers and the national team.
“All the nationally involved players have to sit out a Rainbow Cup SA match, so now’s as good a time as any,” said Dobson.
“It would have been poor on our part to play him and his getting injured just before the Lions series.”