JOHANNESBURG – They were the brave calls that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus waxed lyrically about in the build-up to the first Test against England and they did not disappoint.
Wings Sbu Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi delivered masterclass performances that they themselves will struggle to eclipse on debut, with Nkosi scoring a brace of tries, while Dyantyi dotted down as well.
“It is a huge honour to score on my debut. Credit to the service we got from the inside backs, and we blended well as the back-three and we are very happy about that,” Nkosi said afterwards.
“Yes, I do (remember every part of the game). With a burning chest it is hard to forget, it’s tough playing at altitude – we did well. I think it is memorable, and I won’t forget this game very soon.”
The 23-year-old Dyantyi added: “I don’t think it gets better than that. We were actually talking about it inside (the change room). It’s from my UJ (University of Johannesburg) days, I guess it’s my lucky charm,” Dyantyi said about scoring on debut at every level of the game.
“It definitely did (live up to expectation of Test match). The first quarter we didn’t start very well, but the guys did well to regroup especially in the second quarter. We started getting an ascendancy and the guys did well to control the game.
“It got frantic in the last 10 minutes, but overall it was a good performance from the team and we can build on it.”
However, the debutants had a horror start to the game, with England opting to run the ball instead of kick and that exposed the Springbok defence, with both wings often being left in no man’s land when England went on the offensive.
Even though the English were handsomely rewarded out wide for their early endeavour, it was the ability of the South Africans to adapt to what was in front of them and the experience of old head Willie Le Roux that saw the back-three work in tandem to gather an impressive four tries amongst themselves and stem the tide of England attacks.
“We always knew we were going to win. They presented a different challenge and it just needed for us to adapt and we did accordingly and gained dominance as the game went on,” said Nkosi.
“I wasn’t nervous in the beginning. Obviously the team didn’t start on the front foot, the older guys did well to bring us into a circle and tell us to calm down it is Test match rugby and does happen. The little amount of nerves I did experience they were diminished very quickly by the older guys.”
Dyantyi lauded the experience and playing style of Le Roux, saying that it fitted perfectly with how he and Nkosi play the game.
“I think the coaches helped us a lot during the week and the past two weeks, we’ve really worked hard. The style of play that Willie plays and Sbu’s really compliments mine, and especially how they communicate. Willie’s experience was very pivotal, so I think we can only build from here,” added Dyantyi.
But the duo aren’t getting carried away about their try-scoring heroics from their introduction into Test rugby and even though high on confidence, Nkosi believes that the Boks will need to back up Saturday’s performance in the second Test in Bloemfontein and wrap up the series before heading to Newlands for the last Test.
“I guess it puts us in two points of view. One is that we should start on a better note, and the other is that if we do go behind, we do have the capability to come back. It does do quite a bit for our confidence, but it also works to the contrary,” said Nkosi.