Nkosi: The Bulls reveal the way forward
The Bulls are going to give World Cup-winning Springbok Sibusiso Nkosi the ‘space and time’ to seek the help he needs.
On Monday the Bulls confirmed that Nkosi had been located, safe and sound – ending several days of speculation about his whereabouts.
After lengthy and extensive efforts from the Bulls, in collaboration with a security company, Nkosi was located at the residence of his father in a suburb of Witbank.
The BBC at the weekend revealed that Nkosi has been absent without leave for the past three weeks.
Blue Bulls Company Chief Executive Edgar Rathbone, fronting up to the media on Tuesday, revealed the way forward for the 26-year-old.
Any talk of his contract is being put on the back burner, until such time that he is “healthy enough” to deal with the situation.
It was revealed that Nkosi, capped 16 times by the Boks and a member of the 2019 World Cup-winning team, was struggling with mental health issues.
Rathbone said they will not put a timeline for the return of the player.
* To read the MyPlayers response, CLICK HERE!
“We need to give him his space to get back to full health,” the Bulls boss told a media briefing on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after they found the player.
“We are arranging support and will give him his space.
“As I said to him [Nkosi] yesterday [Monday], our goal is to get him back on a rugby field and feeling like a champion again.”
He added that while there are contractual issues at play, their concern right now is for Nkosi the person, not Nkosi the player.
“He is an employee of the [BBC] company and being absent without leave for three weeks does have consequences.
“However, at this stage, we are missing the point if our concern is whether he is going to have a contract at the Bulls or not.”
The Bulls CEO said they will assist Nkosi, even if he doesn’t return to the Bulls.
“It is our job to get him ready,” Rathbone added.
“We have a player with mental health issues and going through a really rough patch. Our concern is how to get him on his feet again.”
Nkosi, in an interview with News24, confirmed that mental health battles resulted in his disappearance for the past three weeks.
“There’s obviously a lot to speak about that I can’t say out loud but my condition is improving,” Nkosi told News24.
“It’s just been a whole lot of mental pressure. It’s been building up for a couple of years now, since the Sharks saga, and it’s been a bit of a tough time.
“There’s a lot, but I’m at a point where I need to prioritise the person before the rugby player right now,” Nkosi added.
“I just needed time. I’ve basically been curled up in a ball with my dad, and he’s been managing my mental state daily.”
Rathbone said that while he was thrilled to find Nkosi alive, he was “saddened to see him in the state that he was in”.
“[He is] a gentle soul who has somewhat seen his light dim owing to his current well-being,” the Bulls CEO said.
“I am however confident that we are in a good position to provide Sbu with the support he needs and that we should acknowledge his incredible courage to even say to us, that he is not okay.
“We as the Bulls will now be exploring, alongside our supportive partners, support mechanisms that we can introduce in our rugby community and this is hopefully the start of something great for South African rugby.
“We are lucky today, but tomorrow, our intervention may be too late and that is not something we want to see become a reality.”
Rathbone admitted that with the “realities of living in South Africa” and what they have seen in the past with other players, they had concerns for the well-being and not finding him alive.
“It was an unbelievable relief to see him alive yesterday,” the CEO said.
#⃣BREAKING NEWS: @BlueBullsRugby confirmed that contracted player Sibusiso Nkosi has been located, safe and sound – ending several days of speculation about his whereabouts#Rugby 🏉#RugbyUnion🌍
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) December 5, 2022
* Rathbone also gave a breakdown of the timeline, since Nkosi disappeared off the radar:
It was 22 days ago, now, that we began to live in a world where our reality was something we never thought nor could ever anticipate being our reality.
What started as a simple non-appearance for training on Monday 14 November, quickly became a serious case of a missing player.
Four days later, on November 17, having failed to reach Sbu directly through his known channels and numerous visits to his known address here in Pretoria, we mandated our senior men’s manager to rope in the police.
We encountered a few challenges in this regard because we are not immediate family, but still we insisted in continuing our search for Sbu because we are a family and frankly consider all those who form part of this Bulls company, family.
Whilst everyone in the company who had contact with Sbu tried to reach him, whether be it via text or phone calls [without success] we also reached out to our commercial partners to help us broaden the search, as we grew in worry. We know the realities of our beautiful country and that elevated our concerns for the well-being of Sbu.
We were confident that we could locate Sbu without causing public panic but this did not pan out that way, with the story breaking through the media over the weekend.
That meant we needed to fast-track how we deploy the resources we have, but still be strategic enough to give us the best chance at finding Sbu.
Perhaps our search for Sbu picked up defining momentum when [security company] SSG called, offering their tactical support, which offers state-of-the-art intelligence services, that led us to
1. Verifying the authenticity of some of the tips we were receiving,
2. whilst also helping us identify new possible leads
On Monday, December 5, we, alongside SSG, travelled to a location we were confident we could find Sbu, not knowing who or what waited for us but willing to take the chance if it meant we could find him.
Once we reached the town, we stopped at the local police station to solicit their help but we were unsuccessful in this regard, with the police citing that we are not family and thus they cannot intervene. A decision they took after two hours and five minutes of hard negotiations.
Again, SSG stepped up their support to us as the Bulls and gave us the cover that we needed to go knocking at the doors where we thought Sbu was.
At approximately 13:33 we arrived at the location and began to knock, call and pray that we would at least see Sbu.
Fortuitously, as we were considering moving to another address, his father-in-law pulled up to the gate – assuming that he was coming to visit – and he confirmed that Sbu was indeed inside the home. Having last seen him on Wednesday 30 November 2022. That spurred us on as we waited with hope that could not be dampened by the rain.
At approximately 14:02, Sbu stepped up to the gate and opened it for me without hesitation or resistance. We shared brief pleasantries because of the pouring rain and he invited me inside where we spent some 40 minutes speaking.
Specific contents of our conversation I cannot share, as I am sure we all can understand, but in summary, it was important for me to establish that he was okay, safe and unharmed.
Pursuant to that, it was important to try and understand where he is at, what has led to his decision and how we as a company and rugby family can be of support to him.