Sunday Times

Vic­tory of hard work over glitz sees a great dis­trib­u­tor cho­sen

- By KHANYISO TSHWAKU

● Western Prov­ince’s in­el­e­gant yet highly ef­fec­tive out­side cen­tre Ruhan Nel may not have made the 23-man cut for yes­ter­day’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship Test in Port El­iz­a­beth but his selection to the Bok squad is a tri­umph of graft over glit­ter.

The Port El­iz­a­beth-born 27-year-old Sevens star is a valu­able cog in John Dobson’s Western Prov­ince and Neil Pow­ell’s Spring­bok Sevens ma­chiner­ies.

Nel is part of an ex­cit­ing Western Prov­ince back­line that yes­ter­day con­sisted of play­ers like Josh Stander, Sergeal Petersen and Dil­lyn Leyds and Dobson is con­vinced that Nel will be capped at 15s.

“He’s got ev­ery­thing and the one thing you must know about the Sevens guys is that they’ve got an in­cred­i­ble work ethic.

“You have to look at how they train be­cause it’s the tough­est in rugby and their game con­tri­bu­tions. In Sevens rugby you can’t lie on the ground and on the field, he’s got bound­less en­ergy,” Dobson said.

“He’s got amaz­ing phys­i­cal­ity and fit­ness but he’s also got in­cred­i­ble skills and also has a high num­ber of line breaks.

“His sup­port lines are amaz­ing and he’s got in­cred­i­ble skills. At some point he’ll be capped at 15s rugby. “

Nel, who went to Die Ho­er­skool Brand­wag in Uiten­hage, first made rugby rip­ples eight years ago for the Pu­mas Un­der-19 side be­fore stints with the Wits Var­sity Cup side and Gri­quas and the Golden Li­ons be­fore the move to Sevens in 2014.

Pow­ell has seen the best of Nel in the shorter form and said Ruhan has al­ways been a player who can adapt to any rugby code.

“Even be­fore he came into our sys­tem, he was a good dis­trib­u­tor and his pass­ing was very strong. That’s a key qual­ity that ev­ery­one looks for in a 13. It’s also not about the way he dis­trib­utes, but his de­ci­sion-mak­ing and find­ing the right per­son with his passes. He’s just kept on de­vel­op­ing in our sys­tem,” Pow­ell said.

“Coaches at 15s level have of­ten com­ple­mented us on the Sevens play­ers in re­gards to their work ethic and their re­turn to ac­tion af­ter mak­ing tack­les from a break­down, turnover and de­fen­sive per­spec­tive.

“That’s what we do at Sevens and we don’t have time to lie on the ground af­ter mak­ing tack­les. You’re needed de­fen­sively at all times in our game and Ruhan’s learnt all those skills.”

Dobson hasn’t iden­ti­fied any weak­nesses in Nel’s game but said out­side cen­tre re­quires con­stant skill sharp­en­ing be­cause of the at­tack­ing and de­fen­sive de­mands of the po­si­tion. “The more time he spends in 15s, the more he un­der­stands the fi­nesse of the dis­tribut­ing with the longer and shorter passes that are needed in the read­ing of the 15-man code. I’d imag­ine it’s still a work in progress but he cer­tainly can pass and very well and I think he’s one of the most skilled around but 13 is the hard­est chan­nel to de­fend,” Dobson said.

 ??  ?? Ruhan Nel’s time is com­ing, es­pe­cially when depth is still a con­cern with the Spring­boks.
Ruhan Nel’s time is com­ing, es­pe­cially when depth is still a con­cern with the Spring­boks.

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