Vice-captain Trevor Nyakane has been the standout forward in the Vodacom Bulls pack over the first seven rounds of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament, writes DYLAN JACK.
Given that the Bulls had lost a wealth of experience in Lood de Jager, Handre Pollard and Jesse Kriel, it made Nyakane’s role all the more important.
The tighthead prop was also making a comeback from an injury that had frustratingly ruled him out of the 2019 World Cup, so he would have been eager to get back on to the field and find his best form again.
Statistically, newly recruited loose-forward Josh Strauss stands out as he leads the forwards in terms of tackles, runs, running meters and offloads. The Scotland-capped player started proving his worth early on.
However, Nyakane’s value has been beyond those statistics. He, alongside Lizo Gqoboka and Jaco Visage, has helped the Bulls scrum stand as one of the best in the competition, which was especially vital in the team’s only win of the season against the Highlanders.
As vice-captain, the 30-year-old has also had to step into a formal leadership role, captaining the team on a few occasions after Burger Odendaal suffered a succession of injuries.
Before the game against the Highlanders, Nyakane was refreshingly honest over how the Bulls have lost their ‘fear factor’ this year, after an excellent 2019 season.
‘In reality, when you look at it, even when I was still at the Cheetahs, you would fear to come play at Loftus,’ he said. ‘It was a very tough place to come play and we need to try and bring that back. I feel like teams are a bit more comfortable now and they feel like they do stand a chance.
‘So, we need to rectify that and let teams know that when they come to Loftus, it is not going to be a walk in the park or easy four points.’
If the Bulls are to get that aura back, it is a player like Nyakane who is going to be incredibly important towards the end of the 2020 season, whichever format that takes.
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