Business Day

Nyakane aims to play in Boks’ year-end UK tour

- ZEENA ISAACS Johannesbu­rg

CHEETAHS prop Trevor Nyakane may have missed out on selection for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s 36-man squad for the first Springbok training camp, but the player has set his sights on working his way into the national team for the year-end tour to the UK.

Nyakane, who rose to prominence last year after making his Super Rugby debut for the Cheetahs, has grown from strength to strength in the past year and his efforts have paid off, as he has been rewarded with a regular spot in the Cheetahs starting team.

While he admitted that he is still learning and growing as a player, he made no secret of his ambitions to represent the Boks and said that was one of his main goals in the next few months.

“Obviously, playing at this level one has to look at the possibilit­y of representi­ng SA at some stage, so personally I would like to play my way into a position to be selected for the Springbok year-end tour,” said the talented 23-year-old. “But I realise that in order to achieve that I have to continue giving my best on and off the field.”

He had no doubt that his experience in Super Rugby and the Currie Cup in the past two seasons will stand him in good stead as he strives for top honours, but said he is relishing the challenges of Super Rugby for now.

“This is my second season of Super Rugby and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I don’t think there is a better way to measure yourself than to play against some of the best players in the world. I have watched some of the guys we have gone up against on television in the past, so to play against them now is fantastic.

“One thing I have learned in the last year is that there is a big difference between Currie Cup and Super Rugby, and at this level there is little room for error. As a player, however, one gets to that level slowly but surely. In fact, having moved through the ranks at the union, I feel that I am a better person and player, and the atmosphere in the squad is such that it brings out the best in everyone.”

Nyakane first made his mark on the junior provincial scene at the Blue Bulls Limpopo Rugby Union, where he featured in the under-16 Grant Khomo Week and under-18 Craven Week competitio­ns. After being selected for the SA Schools team in 2007 he was snapped up by the Free State Rugby Union.

Ironically, Nyakane found his way into rugby by accident.

“Rugby was never my passion. I actually started playing the sport by chance because my school team didn’t have enough players, so I was asked to play. Soccer was the sport of choice at school.

“That said, things went well when I started playing rugby and I managed to secure a rugby scholarshi­p at Ben Vorster. I started out at outside centre and then I literally grew into the prop role.

“But I often think about the fact that I would not have been here had I not been asked to play rugby, and looking back now, I don’t think I would have done all that well in soccer,” he said.

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