Springbok dream is still alive, says URC Player of the Season Sanele Nohamba

The Lions’ Sanele Nohamba won the URC Player of the Season award this past week. Photo: Backpagepix

The Lions’ Sanele Nohamba won the URC Player of the Season award this past week. Photo: Backpagepix

Published Jun 21, 2024


Sanele Nohamba will not admit defeat, not when there is so much work to do and goals to achieve – not for himself, per se, but rather for his team.

The Lions scrumhalf had a week of dichotomy over the last several days.

On the one side, he had to grapple with the disappointment of missing out on Springbok selection ahead of a once-off Test against Wales tomorrow, while on the other, he was named the URC Player of the Season for his spell-binding performances for the Joburg-based outfit.


“The dream is still alive,” Nohamba said in a telephonic interview with Independent Newspapers from the Eastern Cape, regarding playing for the Boks.

“I know the guys there will get the job done this weekend, but my job is not done yet. I am still going to chase those one-percenters to get better, so that when the opportunity does come, I will be ready.”

While Nohamba is appreciative of the honour bestowed upon him by the URC, the 25-year-old admits that it was not all of his own making.

He played all 18 matches for the Lions during their URC campaign, racking up 1 290 minutes of game time, while scoring 117 points – the fourth-most in the tournament.

He showed an uncanny level of versatility this past season, slotting in at either halfback positions, and played an attractive brand of rugby that had tongues wagging.

Despite his positive play, and some excellent performances by the team, the Lions were unable to make the play-offs of the tournament – finishing ninth at the end of the regular season.

That, too, is a dichotomy that Nohamba will recognise.


Said Nohamba of the award: “It is always nice to get this sort of recognition, but I couldn’t have done it without my team and the backing of the coaches.

“It was never the goal for me to get the award, but rather for the team to get to the play-offs and to see how far we can actually get in the competition … It does suck a little not making it to the play-offs.

“It was probably our inconsistency in the middle part of the competition,” he continued, now looking back at the Lions’ concluded campaign.

“The positive thing is that we’ve been together now for two years and we are starting to find that peak by creating good performances. We understand ourselves a lot better, and we are working towards a common goal.

“From the team’s perspective, the game we played at home against Leinster (a 44-12 win at Ellis Park) was probably the closest to a full 80 minutes from the whole team. As a team, we did well in that game, and the result showed in the way we played.”

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus. Photo: BackpagePix

Last week, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus left the door ajar for Nohamba, insisting that there is still a chance he could feature in the Green and Gold.

The general consensus reached by pundits of the game is that Nohamba’s defence needs some work, an argument that is backed up by statistics that reveal his tackle success during the URC finished at 53%.

“It depends,” Erasmus said at the time, “if things go well, we will certainly blood some youngsters.

“For me, Sanele is almost not a youngster – he has been around the block – but he is someone that is versatile. One or two injuries, and a guy like him might be pulled up … We must first see how the guys go against Wales.”

It was a sentiment shared by former Bok captain Jean de Villiers earlier this week, when he stated of Nohamba: “You continue with that form, you continue with what he has been doing, and he will come into the reckoning.”

The dream then, is still very much alive.