S’bu Nkosi in full flight against the Kings. Photo: Richard Huggard, BackpagePix
DURBAN – It has long been alleged that the Sharks raid their best players from Bloemfontein, with good reason.

But an equally rich provider for the Durban franchise is the Eastern Cape, although there is the occasional Sharks supporter from Gauteng who fulfils his dream and ends up playing for the KwaZulu-Natal franchise.

One such man is the 21-year-old S’bu Nkosi, who went to boarding school at Jeppe High in Johannesburg with posters on his bedroom wall of heroes Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo, proud products of rugby from Southern Kings country.

Last week against the Sunwolves, Nkosi scored two tries, with Mvovo involved in the build-up. But at first, a young Nkosi had to be lured to switching from soccer to rugby up on the Highveld.

“A guy called CJ van der Walt convinced me to come and try rugby with him,” Nkosi said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but with the first touch of the ball, I scored a try. I was probably more scared of being tackled than anything else!”

So there is Nkosi, a player recognised by the Sharks as being special some time ago, and he has been gradually brought into the starting line-up by coach Robert du Preez.

“My place in the Sharks team, hopefully to face the Stormers on Saturday, is because of the plan the Sharks had for me that included the mentorship of ‘my men’, the guys I respectfully call the ‘elders’,” Nkosi said.

He is talking about Ndungane and Mvovo.

“How do you explain the exhilaration that goes through you when the guys on the posters are suddenly telling you how to play rugby at professional level?” Nkosi rhetorically asks.

Lwazi Mvovo has been a mentor to S’bu Nkosi. Photo: Jeremy Lee, Reuters

“I worshipped Odwa since grade two, and Lwazi not long after,” he said.

“But there is also a non-South African who taught me a lot, even if it was over the internet. I love Shaun Johnson (New Zealand rugby league star), and he posts training moves on the net and I watch them, and try to replicate them.”

Nkosi will almost certainly start on the wing (ahead of his hero, Odwa) against the Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday. What does the South African Under-20 wing from 2016 expect?

“I have not been thrown in at the deep end,” Nkosi said. “I have been part of the Sharks squad the whole season and toured with them, so I feel ready for the challenge of a South African derby, especially against a team that loves to attack.

“Well, I also love to attack, and so does the Sharks backline, which seems to be getting younger and younger.

“I am ready for this challenge because Odwa taught me early on to treat each training session as if it was a game, and that is what I do, and (I) feel ready for anything the Stormers have to throw at us.”

The Mercury

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