Although much of the Springbok Showdown was taxing to watch, a few golden touches from Sanele Nohamba offered a glimpse into the bright future of South African rugby, writes CRAIG LEWS.
At first glance, Saturday’s clash between Green and Gold might have been seen as a bit of a pointless exercise. Considering a mish-mash of players were thrown together for the first time, with barely any game time under their belts, it was always going to be a scrappy affair.
Yet, in a wider context, this was about offering some of South Africa’s top local players an opportunity to continue rebuilding some match fitness, while it was clear that the Bok coaches certainly didn’t view it as just a hit and giggle – with Mzwandile Stick highlighting how they wanted to play ‘Test rugby’.
What is also did was provide a little glance through the window to the future, with a few Springbok ‘newcomers’ certainly leaving Newlands with their reputations enhanced.
Nohamba was undoubtedly one of those players who emerged as a big winner from the Bok Showdown, with the young scrumhalf looking confident and comfortable in the colours of ‘green’.
In fact, the sight of him in a Springbok jersey is one that we may well become quite used to in years to come.
After an off-colour performance in the Sharks’ recent warm-up game against the Vodacom Bulls, Nohamba bounced back with an energetic display headlined by his lovely run, and deft grubber, which ultimately led to a try.
And when it came to the most important fundamentals of his game, the 21-year-old was quick to the breakdown, delivered some crisp service and sent out a timely reminder of just why he is so highly regarded.
Even a cheeky little shove on opposite number and Springbok World Cup winner Herschel Jantjies early on provided another little glimpse into the confidence of the youngster, who has such a bright future ahead of him.
And if we rewind, one of the most joyful moments during the early rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby was undoubtedly his sensational match-winning try against the Bulls. It was a try that well and truly announced Nohamba’s arrival on the senior South African rugby landscape, with the former Junior Springbok displaying his pace and natural feel for the game.
Blessed with talent in abundance, Nohamba looked set for a breakthrough Super Rugby season before competition was unceremoniously halted. Yet there is every reason to believe the youngster will be one to watch as Super Rugby Unlocked kicks off next weekend.
The Sharks have made no secret of the fact they are willing to back their youthful scrumhalves, while veteran Louis Schreuder also parted ways with the franchise during lockdown.
It should open the door for Nohamba to make a play for the No 9 jersey, and the prospect of regular game-time for this raw prospect is extremely enticing.