JOHANNESBURG - Trevor Nyakane’s strong performance on the loosehead side of the scrum against the powerful Western Province pack could give him the inside lane to fill the Springbok No 1 jersey on the national team’s European tour next month.
After taking a bit of a beating on the tighthead side the week before, Nyakane - on the loosehead side - bounced back in style on Saturday as he helped the Bulls scrum stand firm against Western Province in the Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands.
The 29-year-old, who missed the Boks’ Rugby Championship campaign because of injury, was recalled to the squad yesterday ahead of next week’s departure to Europe where the Boks will play back-to-back Tests against England, France, Scotland and Wales on consecutive Saturdays.
Nyakane and the high-flying Steven Kitshoff - who didn’t play for Western Province in their last two games - will be involved in a mighty tussle for the starting spot now that Tendai Mtawarira has been ruled out of the tour because of injury.
Also back for the Boks - and certainly boosting the squad in what should be tough conditions in the northern hemisphere - is almost-forgotten lock Lood de Jager. He returns after picking up a serious injury at the start of the year and with Eben Etzebeth, RG Snyman and Pieter-Steph du Toit will be coach Rassie Erasmus’ first-choice locking options, along with Franco Mostert.
The man who has filled the No 5 jersey in most of the Bok Tests this year, Mostert, is expected to be named in the squad next weekend, along with the rest of the Europe-based players Erasmus has picked. Mostert will in future be considered an overseas player as he is set to join up with Gloucester in England soon.
“It is good to welcome back a player of the caliber of Lood – he will add experience to a position where we already have some very good competition for places. Duane, of course, will also bring similar valuable experience to the group,” said Erasmus. pic.twitter.com/8zVrXfyTkY— South African Rugby (@Springboks) October 21, 2018
And, as expected, Japan-based eighthman Duane Vermeulen is also back in the Bok picture after starring in the England series in June, but having missed the Rugby Championship. He has been playing for the Kubota Spears and will bring some much-needed experience of northern conditions to the Bok squad, having played for four years at Toulon in France.
This squad is currently assembled in Stellenbosch to prepare for the tour, with the rest of the players - possibly 15 - to join them following Saturday’s Currie Cup final.