Bloemfontein - Silent bullies. That is what the Springboks plan to be when they resume battle with Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday following an ill-tempered first Test in Pretoria last week.
Trevor Nyakane will be in the front-line trenches this week and he says the Boks have their plan to deal with the war-mongering Welsh, who last week conspicuously attempted to rile the South Africans with off-the-ball tactics.
“When it comes to playing the Springboks, most teams try to get under our skins and while you want to fight fire with fire, you must also be smart,” the 33-year-old veteran said. “You do not want to get sent off for saying something ridiculous or doing something that is not worthy of the Bok colours.
“So it is going to be tough because we know they are going to do their best to unsettle us but we know the best way to deal with it is to be silent bullies, and that is exactly what we are going to do. We want to inflict pain, we want to inflict our physicality so if they are going to be doing their talking and doing whatever it is they do best, we will let them and we will do what we do best.”
Well, that is Wales put in their place and worse news for the tourists is they are going to be up against a Nyakane who is a tougher proposition now than he was since joining Parisian club Racing 92 from the Bulls two years ago.
“It has been quite a rugby education there,” he said with big eyes. “In the southern hemisphere, the way rugby is coached and officiated is very different to France. We do it by the book here but there I learned the hard way that in France often you are on your own ...It is very physical week in and week out. Whether you are playing the team on top or bottom, any day you can take a hiding.
“And up there some of their backs look like forwards, they are that scary, but I have learned that I have to man up and fight my own battles. The game is a bit slower but it is relentlessly tough and if you are not mentally prepared you are going to get hammered.”
Bloemfontein is where Nyakane started his rugby career and he says that playing in the Free State capital is one of the toughest challenges on the world circuit.
“Along with Pretoria and Johannesburg, this is one of the hardest places to play,” he says. “It is hard to breathe, it feels dry, it feels like there is not enough oxygen. It is difficult to play in Bloem and when I was with the Cheetahs we always knew it was tougher for the visiting teams — that is why we called it the “graaf plaas” (cemetery) because it is so hard to play here.”
A big talking point this week has been the decision of Wales to remain in Johannesburg until Thursday while the Boks wasted no time in getting to Bloem and were there on the day after the first Test.
“It is a different ball game here in Bloem and we know it so well, so that is why we came here early,” Nyakane said. “I don’t know why Wales have stayed in Jhb, they obviously have their reasons, but I know we will be as acclimatised as possible and able to execute what we want to execute.”