S’busiso Nkosi will follow in the footsteps of fellow Sharks players and childhood heroes Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane by becoming a Springbok wing when he runs out against England in the first of three Tests at Ellis Park tomorrow. But while it will be a big day for the powerfully-built 22-year-old, who actually hails from Barberton in Mpumalanga, it seems he has his sights set on far bigger things in future.
“I think it’s not a dream come true yet, it’s the beginning of a dream come true,” Nkosi said.
“I don’t just want to play for the Springboks, I want to be excellent for the Springboks. I want to do great in the jersey.”
Nkosi's first outing will come at a venue he knows well, having moved from Barberton to Johannesburg in his final years of high school where he ended up shining for Jeppe Boys High.
“I’m very excited to be debuting at Ellis Park. It’s a special stadium in South Africa, and for me it all started here, having played for the Lions in the junior ranks,” he said.
Nkosi will form a new-look back-three in the Bok team with fellow debutant wing Aphiwe Dyantyi of the Lions and Wasps-based Willie le Roux at fullback. It is an exciting trio, but one that will be severely tested by the England kicking game – and making it a more challenging task is the fact the three men have never played together before.
“I’ve basically spent all my time with them (Le Roux and Dyantyi),” admitted Nkosi.
“I think it’s important that one understands your teammates. There’s always a lot of emphasis on analysing the opposition, but you need to do the same with your own teammates ... so that you know how they play, how they like to beat defenders, what role you can play as a support player, to know how they react in certain situations, how you can help bring out their best.
"I’ve just loved every minute of it.”
Nkosi, who was close to getting a first Test cap last year when Allister Coetzee was coach, felt this was the right time for him to be making his debut. He also said he had done a lot of work in the last year to become a better player.
“A lot goes into being a Test winger ... you’ve got to manage the back field, take high balls, marshal the defence," Nkosi said.
“The fact it’s happening now for me is perfect. I’m more experienced than I was last year and I’ve learnt some lessons along the way."
Nkosi cuts a calm figure. “I’m not very nervous; more excited,” he said. “We’ve prepared well and I’m confident in myself and in the players around me. I feel like I always knew I’d be here, knew I’d play for the Boks. I never had any doubts in my mind. My mom always motivated me, was passionate about me playing.”