PRETORIA – Springbok and Bulls prop Trevor Nyakane easily comes across as one of those genuinely nice guys, and his warm smile is a trait missing amongst some of the world’s best rugby players.
And Nyakane’s pleasant disposition has seen him go as far as give fellow Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff a shower of compliments ahead of them taking each other on in the Super Rugby derby between the Bulls and Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.
As much as Nyakane is open and honest in his belief that he will face his biggest test as a tighthead this year when he locks horns against the ginger haired Kitshoff, there will also be a battle of the two packs in trying to get dominance in the set-piece.
“Steven Kitshoff, if he is not the best in South Africa, he is probably one of the best in world rugby at loosehead,” Nyakane said.
“He’s proven it and he’s been playing great rugby. But obviously it is a pack you want to measure yourself against. Kitsi has been a great loosehead, is a great ball carrier and he scrums well.”
“It will be a great challenge to go there and pull something out because they will be up for it at Newlands. It is going to be a hectic one, it’s a derby, it’s north and south.”
But it is Nyakane’s humility, at times, that hides the enormous talent that lies within that trimmed but still hefty frame of his.
The 28-year-old Nyakane, along with front-row partners hooker Adriaan Strauss and loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka, pulled off one of the most dominant scrumming performances by a Bulls side in years when they decimated the Highlanders scrum on Saturday.
Nyakane still thinks he is far from being the complete product at tighthead and even though he seems to have finally grasped the darker and finer details of his primary job, the former Hoerskool Ben Vorster pupil continues to credit his teammates in the pack as the reason to why they are scrumming so well.
“Well it is a work in progress and there is still a lot of learning. You begin to understand the position. At this moment it is going very well and also give credit to the guys behind us in RG (Snyman), Lood (De Jager) and Jason (Jenkins) because they do a lot of hard work.”
“Back then you just get locks that want to do their lineouts but the ones we have want to scrum and get stuck in. They get pride when the pack goes forward and it helps a lot as a prop to know that you have the backing of your back five when you go into a scrum.”