WATCH: Springboks’ green and gold at the end of Rainbow Cup for Trevor Nyakane
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CAPE TOWN - Having missed out on most of the 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph, tighthead prop Trevor Nyakane will be more eager than most players to get back into the Springbok jersey.
The Bulls front-ranker was pushing hard for a starting spot in the opening game against the All Blacks, but an untimely knee injury – coupled with a quick trip back home for the birth of his daughter – meant that Frans Malherbe ran out in the No 3 jersey in the 23-13 defeat.
The 31-year-old from Tzaneen did make it on to the pitch as a replacement for Malherbe in the second half in Yohohama, but he lasted about 20 minutes after sustaining a torn calf muscle.
The world champions haven’t played since the final due to Covid-19 restrictions, and new coach Jacques Nienaber held a series of alignment camps last week ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour.
That process brought great excitement to Nyakane.
“That little information you get to do what’s required, to be able to play in the green-and-gold … It was awesome to be in that group, see how they see things, and how they want to go forward,” said the man with 42 Test caps to his name from Loftus Versfeld yesterday.
“There are things that they see in your game that you can improve, or that you can work on to give yourself a better chance.
“They picked a few clips here and there, and just kind of show you as to what standards they are looking for – just to remind you, to put you back in the mindset … this is what I used to produce.
“Whether you need to gain weight or lose weight, whether you need to get fitter, or the work-rate. When they looked at me, when you play at the World Cup, that is when you were at your highest, and that is what they are looking for.”
In that regard, he has been hard at work in the scrums over the last few weeks as the Bulls get ready for their Rainbow Cup SA opener against the Lions at Loftus (date and time to be announced, although expected to be on May 1).
Nyakane had been ruled out of the initial Lions clash that was scheduled for this Saturday with a rib injury, but was confident of getting back quickly, so now he may face the Johannesburg side after all.
Mornay Smith is the likely replacement at No 3 if needed.
“The only way you can do scrums right is by actually doing live scrums, to be able to spot the little issues or things. We have been doing a lot of live scrums, and the boys have been taking a bit of heat there,” Nyakane giggled.
“It was almost like a mini pre-season.
“The boys have been taking each other on, and it has been going pretty well for now.”
Apart from Nyakane, captain Duane Vermeulen is also not ready for the Lions game as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, but utility back Stravino Jacobs (broken finger) is fit and available for selection.