Springboks prop Ox Nche to add a new string to his bow in latest Rassie Erasmus experiment

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus and Ox Nche.

Split with Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus and Ox Nche.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus’s latest plan involves powerhouse front-row Ox Nche learning to play on both sides of the front-row.

Nche, who typically plays as a loosehead, shifted across to tighthead during the second half of the Sharks’ dominant round of 16 win last weekend against Zebre Parma.


According to the Rapport, the move was at the request of Erasmus, who also wants Nche to train at tighthead with the possibility of the Shark featuring there for the Springboks in the opening Test of the season against Wales.

The June 22 Test at Twickenham falls outside the Test window and on the same day as the United Rugby Championship final. This means no overseas-based players will be available for selection with Erasmus planning for the possibility of the Bulls and the Stormers making the final, ultimately making Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe and Neethling Fouche unavailable in that instance.

Nche’s Sharks teammate Vincent Koch would be available but the Springboks boss is looking at multiple options. Versatility is a watchword for the back-to-back world champions, who have benefitted from the likes of Trevor Nyakane being able to play on both sides of the scrum in past.

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Can become the starter

With the next Rugby World Cup cycle underway and the Springboks required to phase out a lot of their older players, especially in the front-row, it serves as a golden opportunity for the 28-year-old Nche to nail down a starting role by the 2027 tournament.

The front-row has grown in his 26 Test caps since his debut in 2018 and showcased his value to the Springboks by almost single-handedly rescuing the side in the World Cup semi-final against England last year.

Steve Borthwick’s men appeared to have the Springboks’ number, that was until Nche was brought on in the second period and produced a scrummaging masterclass, winning multiple penalties including the decisive one that Handre Pollard kicked to win the game.

The Rapport also reported that Cheetahs hooker Marnus van der Merwe may be in the mix for the Wales Test as he offers a similar role to Deon Fourie with the ability to play on the flank.

It is believed that Erasmus intends to use the Wales and Portugal matches to try out fresh talent while the more experienced campaigners will likely be deployed in the two Ireland Tests.

The coach is yet to make a decision on the captaincy with their preference to have a locally based captain, although Siya Kolisi could be kept on if Racing 92 are willing to allow the inspirational leader to be available for all camps and Tests.

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