NAGOYA, Japan (Reuters) - Thomas du Toit will make a mad dash from France to replace prop Trevor Nyakane in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad after the latter tore his calf in Saturday’s opening 23-13 loss to New Zealand in Yokohama.
Nyakane, who recently made the switch from loose-head to tight-head prop, lasted just 21 minutes as a replacement in the Pool B defeat before needing to be helped from the field in obvious discomfort.
It is an obvious blow for the Boks given Nyakane’s scrumming power, but assistant coach Matt Proudfoot believes Du Toit has other attributes that will add value to the team.
“Thomas was with the squad for a period of time in the build-up to the World Cup. His ability to play on both sides of the scrum factored into our decision to call him up now,” Proudfoot told reporters in Nagoya on Monday.
“His evolution in that role is quite well developed. We have faith that he will bring his own skill-set to the team.
“He’s a very destructive ball-carrier and very good over the ball. He’s a big man with a big engine. So we’ve got great cover coming in for Trevor.”
Proudfoot also suggested that should another prop fall foul to injury later in the competition, there may be the chance to recall Nyakane.
“It’s really sad for Trevor. He’s had a tremendous season and has worked incredibly hard to make the transition into a serious international tight-head.
“He’s a great guy in the group who will be missed. We’ve given him instructions to go home and work at that (rehabilitation) because who knows what the competition will bring.”
Du Toit had signed a short-term deal to play for French Top 14 side Toulouse during the World Cup, but is now expected to link up with the Bok squad at their training base in Nagoya on Tuesday afternoon.
The 24-year-old won the last of his 10 caps in the 24-18 victory over Argentina in Pretoria on Aug. 17, which was also his only international start.
The Boks are next in action against neighbours Namibia in Toyota City on Saturday.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty