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Ken Borland

Big Trevor & the lollipop: Meyer leaving nothing to chance 0

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Ken

Being one of the largest specimens of humanity in Pretoria, Trevor Nyakane is not exactly hard to spot. But I was nevertheless very excited to see him at Loftus Versfeld the other day, mostly because of what he was doing.

The Bulls prop was busy with Springbok assistant coach John McFarland practising lineout throwing, with the defence guru using the big metal “lollipop stick” he designed exactly for this purpose to replicate Victor Matfield’s hands soaring high above the opposition and claiming the throw that sets up the maul that sets up the try that wins South Africa the World Cup later this year.

I was intrigued because I figured this may mean Nyakane is being groomed to play hooker for the Springboks.

There has not been much for the Bulls to be happy about this season, but Nyakane has been one of the few shining lights at Loftus Versfeld, and here, at the same venue, he was showing the adaptability that has already seen him master the tighthead position, having left the Cheetahs as a loosehead at the start of the year.

I was very excited because, if Nyakane could play as a back-up No 2 it would mean Heyneke Meyer could name just two hookers in his squad, thereby freeing up a place that could help unblock the amazing loose forward log-jam he has to wrestle with.

Because the World Cup in England will be just an overnight flight away from South Africa, it means Nyakane could sit on the bench if one of the two match-day hookers went down on the eve of a game, with a replacement being flown over if the injury was more long-term.

At the moment, Meyer can only take five loose forwards to the World Cup (with Oupa Mohoje going as a lock), so Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger and Marcell Coetzee would appear to be the frontrunners. But that would mean leaving quality, in-form players such as Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr behind, so any scheme that could sneak one of those on to the plane to England should be investigated.

Unfortunately it’s turned out that this was one of the many occasions when I was getting ahead of myself and Nyakane is definitely not being groomed as a hooker and Meyer will choose three No 2s in the World Cup squad.

But it is one of the many examples of how detailed Meyer’s planning is for the World Cup because Nyakane is being trained as a back-up thrower should the on-field hooker get a yellow card. Of which Bismarck du Plessis has many.

It’s an emergency policy for 10 minutes, but it has happened a couple of times to the Springboks in the last two years, with Vermeulen notably forced to throw into the lineout against Ireland last year.

It’s another of the many one-percenters that Meyer reckons could decide the World Cup and the Springbok coach has gone into minute detail in his planning. That includes poring over the minutiae of every previous tournament and the venues where his team will play. He has even gone into the weather records and keeps an eye on the long-term forecasts.

Unfortunately there still seems to be no solution to the problem that will see the likes of Kriel, Whiteley, Kolisi and Carr staying at home!

Nyakane gets chance to prove himself at tighthead 0

Posted on August 14, 2015 by Ken


Springbok loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane will get the chance to prove he can also be a top-class tighthead when he starts in the number three jersey for the Vodacom Bulls in their SuperRugby match against the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.

With Marcel van der Merwe already out with a hamstring strain and Werner Kruger suffering a serious ankle injury last weekend in the rout up front against the Stormers, the Bulls are facing something of a crisis in the tighthead position, but coach Frans Ludeke believes Nyakane can do a job there, even though he will be up against a seasoned All Black in Ben Franks.

“Trevor has really improved at tighthead, he has played Tests there, and we ended strongly in the scrums against the Stormers with him there. This selection reflects that and we are still positive and excited about what we can do in the scrums,” Ludeke said at the team announcement on Tuesday.

Morne Mellet will start at loosehead prop, while Dean Greyling is back on the bench after recovering from a foot injury. The reserve tighthead is Dayan van der Westhuizen, an SA U20 prop, but there seems to be a reluctance to use him as he was left on the bench for the whole of the Stormers game despite the obvious problems the Bulls were having in the scrums.

Ludeke confirmed that the Bulls were looking to acquire an experienced tighthead as back-up, which is probably wise given the obvious lack of faith in Van der Westhuizen.

The one unenforced change to the team comes at fullback where Jesse Kriel replaces Jurgen Visser. Ludeke said Kriel would be a better choice against the Hurricanes because “we think the ball will be in play a lot”, but confidentiality and a wish to protect Visser probably prevented the coach from saying the change was made because of the simple kick ahead that Visser dropped in the first half, leading to the Stormers’ first try and a dramatic change in the momentum of the game.

A third change to the side is enforced by the pectoral muscle injury to eighthman Arno Botha. He will be replaced by captain Pierre Spies, with both the player and management in agreement that he is ready for a full return to action after doing well off the bench against the Stormers.

“The way Pierre carried the ball, it was like the old Pierre Spies. He had a huge impact and we are very satisfied that he’s back to full fitness,” Ludeke said.

Spies’s place on the bench will be taken by young Hanro Liebenberg, who everyone agrees is destined for greater things.

Bulls team: 15-Jesse Kriel, 14-Bjorn Basson, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jan Serfontein, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Piet van Zyl, 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Lappies Labuschagne, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Victor Matfield, 4-Jacques du Plessis, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Morne Mellet. Reserves – 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Dean Greyling, 18-Grant Hattingh, 19-Hanro Liebenberg, 20-Rudy Paige, 21-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22-Jurgen Visser, 23-Dayan van der Westhuizen.



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