CAPE TOWN – An ever-smiling guy moving along on the training field is probably the first image that pops into your mind when you think of Trevor Nyakane. But that won’t be the case for long, or so it seems.
Nowadays, the 30-year-old prop has been steadily altering that image. Not that there’s anything wrong with that trademark happy-go-lucky persona, but this season, it’s scrummaging prowess and hot form that have become an added tag to Nyakane’s name.
It’s exactly those factors that would have made a start for him in the No 3 jersey tomorrow a well-deserved one. Earlier this week, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus named Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe as the starting front row for their final World Cup warm-up game against Japan in Kumagaya (12.15pm kickoff).
It’s also likely that this team will face the All Blacks in Yokohama in their World Cup opener on 21 September as well.
Judging by the kind of performances Nyakane has produced this year, one would expect him to be moving ever closer to locking down a more “permanent” position in the squad, not just because it’s been six years since he first broke into the Bok mix, but because he has earned it.
Along the way, he has made the tough switch from loosehead to tighthead, with his early struggles to make his mark at No 1 and the wealth of depth in the loosehead position driving his jump from one side of the scrum to the other.
He has also had his fair share of discipline-related issues. But now, the more you see him go, the harder it becomes to understand how this guy’s starting berths - in 40 Test matches - can all be recalled on one hand.