Springbok Pieter Steph-du Toit explains early Japanese struggles

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Springbok forward Pieter Steph-du Toit has been plying his trade in the Japanese League since leave the Stormers.

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Du Toit left the Stormers for Japanese side Toyota Verblitz last year and had a hard time adjusting to the league initially. 

Tough start at Verblitz

Du Toit’s early days at Verblitz were riddled with injuries, which made his adjustment period even harder. With very little chance to get momentum on the field. It was not long before he was rumoured to want out of the country due to his struggles to adapt. It was soon confirmed that the lanky blindside flank would be returning to South African shores at the end of the Japanese season. 

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His recent upturn in form, however, has seen him make sure that when he does indeed leave Verblitz, the narrative of his time in Japan will not be that of a failure. Du Toit recently showed flashes of what he is capable of, with a man of the match performance against Shining Arcs earlier this month. As he shows signs of finally finding his feet in his new surroundings, du Toit has finally opened up on why he had initially struggled to acclimatise to the league and its demands.

Why du Toit has struggled in Japan

“I am finding my feet again, As always, I still have a lot to work on to become a better player. However, the Japanese league is very focused on attacking rugby. Because rugby here is still a fairly new thing among the spectators, they want to make it attractive to the public.It is different from what I was used to, and gives me the opportunity to adjust my game as I should.” Said du Toit to Rapport.

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Du Toit, also opened up on his experience playing under former New Zealand World Cup winning coach Steve Hensen.

On playing under former All-Black coach

“Being part of the group where Steve is involved is a whole new experience for me. If you look at what he has achieved with the All Blacks, it goes without saying, Something I noticed is that Steve is focused on a good team culture. The players should be happy. Another thing that got a lot of focus this week is individual skills. What has also changed is the balance of our training sessions. Where it has always been 100% tempo, there is also more focus on ‘clarity’ … what exactly is expected of each player.” Said Du Toit.

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At the end of the season, it will be interesting to see where du Toit ends up plying his trade, with former side Sharks said to be monitoring the situation. 

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