Trans-Jukskei derby a Bok trial
LISTEN as Lions prop Dylan Smith tells his teammates to ‘give it a full go’ against the Bulls in their decisive Super Rugby Round 18 encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Bulls host the Lions in Pretoria in the last match of the round.
By kick-off, both teams will know what is required of them. In fact, they may even both have qualified.
However, that will not prevent the two teams from producing another classic trans-Jukskei derby – brutal and entertaining.
“It’s always a good challenge coming up against the Bulls pack,” Smith told a media scrum at the team’s training base in Johannesburg.
“That’s something I actually look forward to,” he said, adding: “I’ve played against Trevor [Nyakane] here and there. It’s always an exciting challenge.”
The loosehead prop spoke about the Lions needing to bring the same enthusiasm that saw them beat the Stormers 41-22 a fortnight ago.
And as an added incentive, there is the ‘encouragement’ of possible Springbok selection in the not too distant future.
The international season is around the corner – with the Springboks getting their Rugby Championship campaign underway with a clash against Australia in Johannesburg on July 20.
Saturday’s Loftus derby is the last time that Smith will go head-to-head with Springboks before the international season.
It is an ideal opportunity to impress coach Rassie Erasmus.
Smith played down the ‘Bok selection’ poser, suggesting his focus is on helping the Lions progress to the Super Rugby play-offs.
“I can’t really [afford] think about that [Springbok selection],” the 25-year-old said.
“It does play in the back of your head, but I’ve got to take things week-for-week – especially coming up against good competition like Trevor.
“I can’t think of what could possibly happen [down the line]. I should rather think of what I can do this week.”
One particular battle to look forward to in the front row is that of Smith vs Nyakane.
Smith weighs in at 113 kilograms and stands at 181 centimetres tall, while Nyakane is slightly heavier at 120 kilograms and 178 centimetres.
Smith has made 77 metres and carried the ball on 31 occasions during his 315 minutes in 10 matches.
Nyakane has made 58 metres and carried the ball on 30 occasions during his 499 minutes in 15 games.
It is evident that both Smith and Nyakane have the ability to create ‘go forward’ ball for their teams.
Both players also have impressive statistics on defence.
Smith boasting an 87 percent tackle success rate – 45 successful tackles out of an attempted 52 tackles.
Nyakane has an 89 percent tackle rate, with 92 tackles out of 103 attempts.
By Josh Isaacson