Sikhumbuzo Notshe still gets ‘goosebumps’ thinking back to the moment when inspirational coach Dave Williams set him a thought-provoking task upon his arrival at the Sharks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
In a wide-ranging Zoom chat with SARugbymag.co.za, Notshe opened up about his move from the Stormers to the Sharks, and highlighted a unique question he answered that set him on the path to finding the top form he displayed at the start of the season.
After several years at Western Province and the Stormers, Notshe admits he made the move to the Sharks realising that a change was needed if he hoped to revive his career and achieve his ambitions of earning a recall to the Springboks.
In particular, the 26-year-old says one of his first interactions at the Sharks changed the way he went about his business.
‘I’ve got goosebumps now just thinking of it … Dave called me in, and he’s obviously a very experienced coach who has worked with many players individually. He said: “Let’s have a one on one and create a pathway for you here at the Sharks.”
‘The first question he asked me when I arrived was, “What are you doing here?” And that gave me a shock because I wasn’t sure what to say, because I’d never been asked a question like that before. The first thing I said was “game time to showcase my talents”, because I felt like I had been restricted in terms of game time in the past.
‘For me, I just felt like the move to the Sharks was my last shot. If I don’t get this thing right, here and now, then maybe I had to accept it wasn’t going to happen for me. So I had to make it work, and mentally I was in a good space even though I’d put a lot of pressure on myself and knew it was my last roll of the dice …’
Notshe said a defining moment then came when he started to think about all the qualities needed to be a well-rounded loose forward, before Williams asked him to draw a picture that would describe him this season.
‘So I thought about it, and did a sketch of a Shark with smoke behind it, and wrote “Full Flight” next to it. He then asked me to explain it, and I said: “Dave, I want to be a Shark that is in full flight week in and week out, not one weekend on and one weekend off.”
‘So we agreed to meet up every Monday to discuss whether I had been a Shark in full flight in the last game. I just thought here is someone who is willing to help me grow as a player, and so I bought into that and we began to work together, doing a variety of drills. Dave was big on going through the tapes, looking at the analysis, and when I look back now it was all worth it.
‘I suddenly had this positive voice in my ear, but also with constructive criticism. It was all productive, and it helped me get out of a negative bubble and it was basically a match made in heaven. I found myself really happy again.
‘Of course, I was bummed when the season ended like it did [due to the coronavirus pandemic] because obviously I had my ambitions. I wanted to boost my six Test caps, and go out there and prove with game time this is what can happen.’
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets