Notshe: I’m a No 8

Sikhumbuzo Notshe says there is no time for ‘sulking’ as he looks to move forward with Western Province after being released from the Bok squad, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Notshe first formed part of the Springbok squad in June, but was then released to play for the SA A side in their opening game against the England Saxons, with the loose forward producing a stellar performance in a losing cause.

The 23-year-old also earned inclusion in the Boks’ initial Rugby Championship squad, but was let go from the camp last Tuesday in order to be able to rejoin Western Province at the start of their Currie Cup campaign.

Notshe was promptly drafted straight in the starting lineup last weekend, but he had a largely forgettable game as Western Province slipped to a disappointing defeat against the Free State Cheetahs.

Although it might have been difficult for Notshe to lift himself for such an encounter so soon after being released from the Bok camp, he offered no excuses when addressing the media this week.

‘Obviously one could look at a player’s mental state after being dropped and sent home, and question how do you bounce back from that? But I just want to move forward, take everything away and contribute when called on [by Western Province]. There was disappointment [at being released by the Boks], but I’m also excited about being back at Western Province. I can’t sulk, there’s a job for me to do here and I’m grateful to be doing what I’m doing.’

The Springboks' current loose-forward contingent includes Warren Whiteley, Oupa Mohoje and Francois Louw, with Jaco Kriel providing cover at No 6, while versatile Pieter-Steph du Toit is the backup at blindside flank.

Notshe may be next in line, but he’s also under no illusions that patience and consistent performances will be required if he is to earn a Bok recall.

‘I’ve chatted with Allister [Coetzee] and there’s clarity there in terms of where he sees things for me. I do just need to bide my time and remain patient. That will be key, and even when I was here [at the Stormers and Western Province], I needed to wait for my opportunity when playing behind Springbok loose forwards.

‘It was just great to be in the [Bok] mix, and I need to keep pushing those guys. You don’t want to be there just to make up the numbers, but to keep competing strongly. You want to be a Springbok at the end of the day.’

Boasting the sort of versatility that could see him slot in anywhere in the back row, a case could well be made for Notshe to begin to focus and specialise in one position.

In the mould of an athletic No 8 such as Bob Skinstad or Pierre Spies, it certainly does appear as if Notshe knows where his future lies.

‘I must be honest. I think I am a No 8, and I want to develop my game in that position. Obviously I need to establish myself there now, having received an opportunity in that position, and it’s important for me to stamp my authority there so that going forward I’m seen as an eighthman.’

Notshe is set to start at No 8 once again when Western Province take on the EP Kings this Friday, and he acknowledged that he needed to produce a performance that reflected his enthusiasm to be back in action.

‘I can’t come back from the Boks with a sulking face. I need to bring excitement and energy to the team, and look forward to this opportunity. I’m playing at eighthman, where I’m comfortable, and I have to produce. I can’t be looking for any excuses, this is what I love and a position where I want to be.’

Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis