SA Rugby’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, has revealed that he is hopeful that Sbu Nkosi can still work his way into the reckoning for possible Springbok selection despite being released by the Bulls this week.
Nkosi, who was part of the Boks’ 2019 World Cup-winning squad, has not played for South Africa since the global showpiece in Japan four years ago and has fallen behind the likes of fellow wings Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie in the pecking order.
Late last year, Nkosi went missing for three weeks and he was reported missing by the Bulls during that time. He was eventually found at his father’s house in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga and admitted that he was struggling with his mental health.
The Bulls announced on Monday that they had parted ways with the 27-year-old by mutual consent.
Erasmus keen to see Nkosi in action soon
“Looking at his age and how well he played for us, we just hope that we can see him somewhere as soon as possible to make himself a contender again and we [can] start comparing him to other players,” said Erasmus.
“Hopefully he stays in South Africa because that will be fantastic. If he goes abroad to the French Top 14 or he goes to Japan, the nice thing is that we have worked with him and we can follow how he is doing.
“I never talk about players’ personal lives and I also don’t know the insides of what is going on there, but we just hope that as soon as possible we can see him somewhere.
“That will allow us to judge or rate him against the guys who are playing in the Springboks team on Saturday.”
Erasmus said the Springbok management are working with several players and some of them are receiving professional help for various personal problems which they are dealing with.
“The squad has 41 players and we have worked together since 2018. You are like a father because you get to know that there are a lot of people struggling with a lot of things,” he added.
“I am not referring to Sbu specifically now, but some of the problems that players have are known and some are not known out there. Some players are handling themselves and with others we are a little bit involved and [with] some there is professional help.
“Overall, when we talk about players, we must talk about them as people and we mustn’t always discuss their personal lives out there to everyone. I don’t have insights but he must just get back on the field and I hope he is OK.
“Wherever we can assist, if there is something, on or off the field, we will definitely try to support him.”
Meanwhile, Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi has revealed that he views the expectations on the team this season as a privilege rather than pressure.
The Boks kick off their 2023 international campaign against the Wallabies in a Rugby Championship clash in Pretoria on July 8 and play five more Tests ahead of their Rugby World Cup campaign in France later this year.
As the defending champions at the global showpiece, expectations are high, but Mbonambi said it was something the Boks embraced.
“South African rugby fans don’t only have expectations on us in a World Cup year, it’s the same for every game we play,” he said. “We feel the expectations, but we don’t see it as pressure, we see it as an honour and a privilege.
“Of course, we feel nervous, but we are also excited. We love it and enjoy it.”
Preparations are different in 2023
Regarding the world champions’ preparations for this year’s World Cup in comparison to their triumphant campaign in 2019, Mbonambi said: “Four years ago was a completely different story. We were a bunch of new players coming together with a new coaching team and fresh plans, so it took longer to prepare and become aligned.
“This season we are finding our rhythm and aligning quicker, as we have known one another for four years longer, and we know what the coaches expect from us.
“As players we also know what to expect from each other and we are working harder because we can’t do what we did four years ago and expect the same result.
“We are currently putting our plans in place, and the alignment camps certainly helped in that regard. We are a big group, so everyone is being coached well in terms of our plans.”