Super Rugby / 16 January 2020, 11:30am / Mike Greenaway
DURBAN – The Sharks have committed themselves to play exciting rugby in 2020, as they did in the Currie Cup last year, but for Sbu Nkosi, the only thing that counts is winning.
“I don’t care what kind of rugby I am playing, I just want to win, so whatever brand of rugby we play at the Sharks, I will do my job and if that rugby can get me into a ‘W’ on the sheet, I am in,” the 23-year-old said yesterday as the Sharks continued their preparations for Sunday’s Super Rugby warm-up match against the Stormers in Johannesburg (1pm).
Don’t get Nkosi wrong, he is a passionate Sharks man - he is just ultra-competitive and wants the best for his team.
In responding to a question as to whether the Sharks had adequately replaced the raft of players that left after last year’s Super Rugby, he replied: “We lost quite a few guys but have extremely capable replacements in players that want to be at the Sharks.
“The most important thing is the passion for the brand and we would rather have players with that passion than better players that don’t care about the brand.”
Further, Nkosi has touted the Sharks backline as being potentially the best in the country, if not Super Rugby in 2020.
“We have a very good backline in my opinion,” he said.
“We have powerful players in Andre Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am, skilful and clever players like Curwin Bosch and Sanele Nohamba, and plenty of pace out wide (Makazola Mapimpi, Madosh Tambwe and Nkosi himself); and some very good decision-makers at 15 in Aphelele Fassi and the up-and-coming Henry Chamberlain.”
Tambwe, the 22-year-old Zaire-born winger, has been snatched by the Sharks from the Lions and will be remembered for the remarkable hat-trick he scored against the Stormers in 2018.
His three tries came within the first 13 minutes of the game and he later added a fourth for good measure.
“Competition is always there in rugby, and especially for the outside back positions,” Nkosi said of his rivalry with Tambwe and Mapimpi. “In fact, South Africa, in general, is saturated with very good players in our position.
“It is how you deal with it; Mapimpi, Madosh and I choose to stick together in training so we can understand each other better and feed off each other. So yes, we have a very healthy squad of backs.
“If we live up to our potential then at the end of the season I should be able to say, ‘yes we were the best backline in Super Rugby’, but I can’t say that now before we’ve done the business.”
A foot injury last year meant Nkosi was unavailable for the start of the Rugby Championship and he ultimately lost his place in the Springbok starting line-up to Cheslin Kolbe after having had a fine breakthrough season at international level in 2018.
He was nevertheless an important part of the overall Bok campaign in Japan and is a proud World Cup winner.
“Winning the World Cup was a new experience for us. We enjoyed it as it all unfolded but we have to bury that now and focus on making it a successful season for our respective unions,” Nkosi said. “Winning the World Cup has given me confidence and responsibility and I returned to the Sharks with a different perspective.
“I know there are guys in the same position as me looking up to me. When we are running, I know that I can’t be behind them, my passing must be good; they are watching you and expecting certain standards.”