Chilled Nyakane ready to be a 'headache' for Bok coach
For World Cup-winning prop Trevor Nyakane – as is the case with most of his Springbok teammates – the last week has been a case of vastly contrasting environments.
After bashing the living daylights out of each other in a succession of domestic derbies – the result of travel restrictions that limited home-based players to domestic competitions only – they gathered in Bloemfontein to rekindle the friendships that saw them win the Webb Ellis Cup in 2019.
It is been almost two years since they wore the Green and Gold, but everybody seemed to have made the switch seamlessly.
After helping the Bulls reach the Rainbow Cup Final, Nyakane – instead of heading off to Treviso to face Benetton on Saturday – boarded a plane for Bloemfontein to join the Bok camp.
The competition for places may be tougher, but Nyakane is also relishing the opportunity to rekindle old friendships.
“There is less room for error,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “The players here [in the Bok camp] are all quality.
“You simply have to step up.
“We are still settling in [here in Bloemfontein], but the excitement and the fun of being in the Bok camp is there.
“I am enjoying it. I am just trying to chill with Kitsie [Steven Kitshoff] and the boys a bit more, because you do miss them [Bok teammates] a bit.
“It is good to be back.”
(Article continues below video …)
Nyakane said he is pushing himself as hard as he can to make the coaches’ decision as tough as possible when making a call on the starting XV.
“It is all about us working as hard as we can as a group – create some healthy competition and given the coaches a bit of a headache, make it as hard as possible for them to pick from any of us.”
The 32-yea-old, capped 42 times by the Boks since 2013, said he is focusing on getting as much information possible to ensure he is ready for the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions next month.
“We all want to wear the jersey,” he said, adding: “It’s always an honour whether it is from the bench or not.
“There’s a bit of a difference because when you start a game you get the chance to go with the game and kind of dictate the pace, whereas when you come off the bench you need to bring a different kind of energy because you need to inject that spark into the team.
“For me at this point in time, however, I just want to try to make the squad, and whether it is starting or playing off the bench, it doesn’t matter, as long as I can go out there and express myself and represent my country as well as I can.”
The first opportunity for the Boks will come in the form of a couple of warm-up Tests against Georgia on Friday, July 2 and Friday, July 9.
The B&I Lions tour gets underway on July 3, when they face the Johannesburg-based Lions at Ellis Park – followed by encounters with the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers and South Africa A.
The Tests are scheduled for Saturday, July 24 (Cape Town Stadium), Saturday, July 31 and Saturday, August 7 (both at Soccer City, Soweto).
* Picture credit: @Springboks