Johan Rynners/Blue Bulls Rugby
- Jake White has hailed Trevor Nyakane as one of the most influential figures in the Bulls’ resurgence.
- The 31-year-old Springbok prop showed his worth again last week in stabilising his team’s scrum against the Cheetahs.
- He’s also tackled his mentoring responsibility with relish.
Like the majority of his Bulls charges, Jake White has never worked previously with Trevor Nyakane.
But he knew the influential Springbok prop would be a key pillar to his plans for reviving the franchise and his faith has been duly rewarded.
“Trevor is an unbelievable guy, on and off the field,” said White.
“He’s very good for this group.”
The Bulls director of rugby’s estimation for his first-choice tighthead merely skyrocketed last weekend against the Cheetahs after coming on as a 33rd minute replacement for Marcel van der Merwe.
15 Manie Libbok, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Jeremy Ward
15 David Kriel, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren
White mentioned that a bigger deal was made of the situation than was warranted, but it still neatly illustrated the aura that Nyakane commands nowadays.
“People must understand that Trevor didn’t just come on and wave a wand,” he said.
“All he did was show his experience, to bring stability to the scrum. It’s also not just about what he does personally on the field, it’s about what he does for his fellow players.
“They get a further injection of confidence when he’s around. He’s a presence.”
Nyakane has also embraced the mentoring aspect that comes with his status as one of the Bulls senior players, gleefully sharing his knowledge with several promising front rowers in the union’s various structures.
“He’s really helping to bring through the youngsters,” said White.
“He’s taken (gifted 19-year-old loosehead) Jan-Hendrik Wessels under his wing and has had a lot of one-on-one’s, particularly in terms of discussing the loosehead-versus-tighthead battle.
“Trevor’s been phenomenal, a really good guy who’s such a model professional on and off the field.”
Given the undercurrent that a win at King’s Park on Saturday would go a long way towards ensuring the Bulls’ spot in the Currie Cup playoffs, talk about a sense of complacency creeping in has been rife.
Nyakane will undoubtedly be tasked with keeping his team-mates’ feet firmly planted to the ground, though White is not worried about his troops’ motivation levels.
“We know if we play well enough we can beat them, and we know what they’re going to be bringing,” he said.
“We’re in a fortunate position, there’s no over-complacency, we have respect for our opponents. But I don’t want to underplay that when you’ve had two results like we’ve had recently against a similar side to what (the Sharks) have now, there’s no reason why you’d go into a game like this without the knowledge – not complacency – that if you play well you can win.”
Kick-off is at 19:00.