S’bu Nkosi says he looked to use his injury-enforced absence from the Springboks to continue making improvements to his game, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Nkosi enjoyed a dream Test debut back in June when he scored two tries as the Boks claimed a memorable 42-39 comeback victory over England at Ellis Park.
The talented 22-year-old remained on the right wing for the next two matches, but on his return to Super Rugby, Nkosi suffered an unfortunate ankle injury that ruled him out of action for nearly two months.
The youngster made a welcome return to play when he featured off the bench in the Sharks’ Currie Cup win over the Golden Lions last Saturday, and he was then drafted straight back into the Springbok squad for the final two Rugby Championship Tests.
Speaking to SA Rugby magazine just before making his comeback with the Sharks, Nkosi says he simply tried to make the most of the rehabilitation period that saw him miss the first four matches of the Rugby Championship.
‘To be honest, I tried to ensure I didn’t get too frustrated by the injury. That’s part of the sport, and so I just tried to take it in my stride and be as smart as possible with my time. So I watched the [Test] matches again, and tried to see where my faults were, and I how I could get better. So I used that time to try and improve and get smarter as a player.’
Nkosi is well known for openly stating his ambitions to emulate role model Beast Mtawarira in reaching 100 Test caps. It drives a desire for constant self-improvement.
‘It’s easy to talk about [the areas of my game I want to work on],’ he says with refreshing honesty. ‘My positioning can be better at times, I also think I need to work more on my kicking, especially the attacking kicks, and of course as a wing, you also need to keep working on your safety under the high ball. Then there’s work rate, knowing when and where to work. Those are a few things I’ve marked down to keep improving.’
Having worked his way back to fitness, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the physical wing reclaim a starting berth when next Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks rolls around.
For Nkosi, who made his Super Rugby and Currie Cup debuts just last year, he can’t wait for another taste of Test rugby.
‘I didn’t expect to the step up to Bok level as quickly as it happened, but I always wanted to ensure I would be ready if it happened,’ he reflects. ‘It was a long-term goal that I achieved in the short term, and it was just a good taste of Springbok rugby in that June series. I really enjoyed that and the vibe in the camp, so I’m very excited to be back.’
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