Pieter-Steph du Toit: From the injury that nearly cost him his leg to fronting the British and Irish Lions
The big Springbok flank has had a challenging year, but if there has been a silver lining it's that he's been out of action mostly during lockdown.
In an interview with The Citizen, the World Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph du Toit, talks about the injury that set him back this year as well as the excitement that is building ahead of the tour by the British and Irish Lions. Picture: Getty Images
After three big and career-defining leg operations World Cup and Springbok star flank Pieter-Steph du Toit is ready to deal with the challenges of only returning to the field next season and focusing on the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa. Named SA Rugby Player of the Year on three occasions, in 2016, ‘18 and last year, Du Toit suffered a horrendous leg injury early this year which not only nearly cost him his leg, but possibly his life as well. For the 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year, the memories of that near fateful night against…
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After three big and career-defining leg operations World Cup and Springbok star flank Pieter-Steph du Toit is ready to deal with the challenges of only returning to the field next season and focusing on the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
Named SA Rugby Player of the Year on three occasions, in 2016, ‘18 and last year, Du Toit suffered a horrendous leg injury early this year which not only nearly cost him his leg, but possibly his life as well.
For the 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year, the memories of that near fateful night against the Blues at Newlands are still fresh in the mind. The 28-year-old had to be rushed to hospital after suffering the injury and that same evening had to undergo an emergency operation.
“I still remember the date clearly; it was the 29th of February. There was some urgency around the need to do surgery; they had to cut deep into the muscle because my leg was swelling up so much that the blood supply was cut off from my feet,” Du Toit said this week in an exclusive interview with The Citizen.
The haematoma quickly developed into acute compartment syndrome and was it not for the quick thinking of Stormers team doctor, Jason Suter, who described the case as very rare, Du Toit may have been forced into early retirement.
The injury that almost cost Pieter-Steph du Toit his leg.
“But after the operation they struggled to close the wound. So, two days later, on the Monday, I had to go for a follow-up operation to close the wound, which they weren’t able to do. It had become so big because of the swelling,” he explained.
The Bok star then had to walk around with an incredibly big and open wound for two weeks but was mostly at home in Malmesbury and confined to bed rest.
“After that they asked me to return to try and close the wound which they fortunately managed to do and then, of course, Covid happened.
“I started my rehabilitation on my own at home and when we were allowed to return to some normality I went back to the Stormers and started training with them again,” he said.
But more agony awaited after Du Toit put in plenty of hard work and hours to get his leg ready again. There were on-going complications following the operation, with the muscle around the nerve not growing back properly – something that bothered and worried the big flanker.
“Things didn’t feel completely normal and right to me, so I went and got a second opinion and that’s when I was told there were unfortunately complications and that doctor prescribed yet another operation,” said Du Toit.
Du Toit didn’t sit idle during lockdown; he got stuck in helping people in need, in this case during the #StrongerTogether for R32-12 campaign organised by SA Rugby to help feed destitute people during lockdown. Picture: Getty Images
Now, following the third surgery, Du Toit is hopeful his leg will recover properly.
“I have had no further setbacks or complications and it’s getting better every day,” he said.
Having had to reset his goals, Du Toit is now looking ahead to the visit by the British and Irish Lions next year, but before then he would like to return to the rugby field in the colours of the Stormers or Western Province.
“I am really looking forward to do that first. While it’s never good to have an injury, at least in my case, it’s happened during lockdown and when no rugby was being played, so I haven’t missed too much, fortunately.”
Boasting 55 Bok caps and earning his 50th against New Zealand at last year’s World Cup, Du Toit reckoned the Lions visit next year would be massive.
“There’s already so much excitement around that tour; it’s going to be such a big occasion, something I am really looking forward to being a part of.”
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