CAPE TOWN - So, we won’t get to see Sikhumbuzo Notshe add his skill and flair to the Springbok loose trio during the end-of-year tour, but who knows, we might just get treated to that on the Sevens circuit.
The exciting loosie joined the Springbok Sevens squad when they assembled in Stellenbosch on Monday. And although being part of the Bok touring group would have been a fine prospect, being a part of the reigning World Sevens Series champions’ early campaign is an attractive one as well.
Notshe - who is on loan from Western Province for the first four events in Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton and Sydney before returning to the Stormers in mid-February - was part of the wider Bok squad against Ireland last year, while he also formed part of the SA A team that faced the England Saxons in 2016.
With his pace and skill, Notshe seems a perfect fit for the Sevens game, but as we all know, those aren’t the only attributes needed to make a decent Sevens player.
But this Currie Cup season especially, the 24-year-old has also shown that he doesn’t, at all, lack the physical edge - and we saw that every time he got stuck in at the breakdowns and in the collisions whenever he starred off the bench (which did, of course, strengthen the make Notshe a Bok case).
That breakdown work and his defensive strengths - both crucial in Sevens - should make him a decent loan. He possesses a number of traits that could make the stint not too hard a one - there’s his fleet-footedness that should, for example, make it quite easy for him to track back from the point of contact and get into the defensive line in the abbreviated game. There are those livewire ways of his, and then there’s his know-how when it comes to handling the ball that you don’t see from forwards all the time.
Good to see you again old friend 🏆 pic.twitter.com/gkyiVTJSZH
And while Notshe can add to the Sevens game, the game can add to his Fifteens resume as well.
Sit in at any press conference where a coach who has a Sevens recruit or two in his arsenal discusses his players, and you’re almost guaranteed to hear that coach praise the Sevens guys for their work ethic.
Look at okes like Werner Kok, Ruhan Nel, Seabelo Senatla, Kwagga Smith, and so on, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
But Notshe is already no slouch, and the intensity, commitment and emphasis with which the Blitzboks approach defence can only sharpen the Stormers back-rower in that department even more. And let’s not underestimate what a couple of months spent in the Sevens camp, in terms of conditioning, can do for any player.
All things considered, I think his Sevens berth is one to look forward to, and one that the man himself is keen on as well.
“It is pretty exciting to be able to join the World Series champions,” said Notshe. “I am keen to learn from them as they are a pretty experienced group.
"The guys were pretty excited to get back together again and so am I - it is almost like the first day back at school for me. For me it will be all about learning from the old heads here.”
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell was also quite a happy man about Notshe’s arrival.
“It is great to have Sikhumbuzo with us. He realises that a place in the squad is not guaranteed, but I am pleased to have a player of his abilities added to our squad,” Powell said.