Rugby World Cup winner ready for scrum battle in star-studded derby

Dylan Coetzee
Sharks prop Ox Nche during a warm-up.

Sharks prop Ox Nche during a warm-up.

Springboks and Sharks prop Ox Nche is relishing the front-row battle ahead of a massive local derby against the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

Nche has not made a starting return yet for the Durban side after a very successful Rugby World Cup that saw the loosehead throw his name in lights by almost single-handedly turning around the semi-final against England.

After his brilliant scrummaging cameo in that game, he has become a cult hero for South African fans with his joke “salads don’t win scrums” the centre of his popularity.

“Complete” Bulls

The powerful prop is looking forward to refocusing and performing for his team in the URC and expects a difficult challenge from the “complete” Bulls this weekend.

“If you have been watching the Bulls’ games, they have been running with the ball. They kick well, they are dominant in contact and their defence systems are in place,” Nche said.

“I think they are going to give a complete package in terms of the challenge.

“We have to be ready for it or we will come out second best.”

Nche faces Wilco Louw, who is one of the better scrummagers in the country, and the Sharks man is up for a big battle.

“Wilco has a good reputation around his scrumming and he is pretty strong so we will need to have very good plans to neutralise that,” he said.

“They are a good pack; they have been putting teams away at set-piece time. I think it is going to be a massive challenge for us and I think we just have to be up for it.

“They scrum well as a unit and not just the front-row.”

Save the season

It has not been the dream start for the Sharks, who sit in 14th spot on the table, but the return of their Springbok contingent could be the added impetus they need to save their season.

Nche is expecting his team to embrace the altitude and empty the tank when the teams face off this weekend.

“We have 23 strong players and our philosophy is pretty similar to the Boks, which is give it your all for as long as you can and then the next guy [off the bench] can do the same,” he added.

“Guys have been playing full games and they are fit enough to play at altitude, so we are going to keep to our philosophies. The only thing that we can really get out of it is a better team.

“We are playing the Cheetahs [in Bloemfontein in the Challenge Cup] in a few weeks and it’s going to be altitude as well, so we have to push ourselves now.

“If it does have an effect then we will come out as better players in the end.”

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