Jake White positive Trevor Nyakane won’t fluff his lines after Netflix episode
CAPE TOWN - Bulls director of rugby Jake White has taken a calculated risk by naming Trevor Nyakane in his starting line-up for tomorrow’s Super Rugby Unlocked opener against Griquas.
The Springbok tighthead prop was forced out of last weekend’s Springbok Showdown at Newlands following Oupa Mohoje’s positive Covid-19 test.
White quipped yesterday “That’s what happens when you lie on a double bed and watch Netflix - you get Covid! So he must now go and make sure that he doesn’t lie next to people on a bed” on Nyakane’s absence from the Bok game.
The reality of the situation, though, is that the 31-year-old front-ranker has not been able to train with his Bulls teammates, as he was still in isolation in Cape Town this week.
White tried to put a positive (excuse the pun) spin on the selection yesterday by insisting that Nyakane has been sticking to his training programme, and that he was a Bok World Cup winner “who is important to us (and) knows how we play”.
The 56-year-old coach did admit that Nyakane’s two-week absence from Loftus is a bit of a worry and that the situation is “not ideal” though - and his hand is somewhat forced in this regard.
Another Bok tighthead in Marcel van der Merwe, who rejoined the Bulls from Toulon during the Covid-19 break, did not feature in the SuperFan warm-up against the Sharks and is not part of the match-23 for Loftus tomorrow either.
A relatively unknown 22-year-old in Mornay Smith is the back-up tighthead to Nyakane for the Griquas clash, with Bok loosehead Lizo Gqoboka making his way back from injury as the loosehead reserve.
Add in the fact that captain Duane Vermeulen and another experienced loose forward in Nizaam Carr are nursing leg niggles, as well as first-choice hooker Schalk Erasmus (ankle) being sidelined for six weeks, and suddenly the Bulls would look a bit undercooked upfront if Nyakane had to sit out too.
Griquas coach Scott Mathie told IOL Sport this week that his team’s biggest challenge will be the forward battle, where the big unions always have top Boks on their books.
Despite Kurt-Lee Arendse’s unfortunate absence due to a contusion on his quad, the Bulls still have a lethal backline that showed how dangerous they can be in the 49-28 win over the Sharks a fortnight ago.
Gio Aplon, Travis Ismaiel, and centres Stedman Gans and Cornal Hendricks are the heavy-hitters with ball-in-hand, but with a halfback pair of Morne Steyn and Ivan van Zyl, the Bulls are also equipped to kick the synthetic leather off the ball.
“We are just going to kick up-and-unders this weekend, and try and change it completely from last weekend. We are going to play like the Bulls: kick up-and-unders and charge! Who knows, maybe that is a surprise as well,” White said with a smile about his team’s game plan tomorrow.
TEAMS FOR LOFTUS
Bulls: 15 Gio Aplon 14 Travis Ismaiel 13 Stedman Gans 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 David Kriel 10 Morné Steyn 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Tim Agaba 7 Arno Botha (captain), 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Jason Jenkins 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Corniel Els 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar 17 Lizo Gqoboka 18 Mornay Smith 19 Sintu Manjezi 20 Elrigh Louw 21 Embrose Papier 22 Chris Smith 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Griquas: 15 Anthony Volminck 14 Daniel Kasende 13 Harlon Klaasen 12 André Swarts 11 James Verity-Amm 10 George Whitehead (captain) 9 Zak Burger 8 Niell Jordaan 7 Stefan Willemse 6 Carl Els 5 Victor Sekekete 4 Ian Groenewald 3 John-Roy Jenkinson 2 HJ Luus 1 Mox Mxoli.
Bench (from): 16 Alandré van Rooyen 17 Bandisa Ndlovu 18 Madot Mabokela 19 Adré Smith 20 Zandre Jordaan 21 Gideon van der Merwe 22 Ashlon Davids 23 Berton Klaasen 24 Mzwanele Zito 25 Johan Momsen 26 Bjorn Basson.