Dynamic prop Ox Nche says he has felt the benefit of playing among leading World Cup winners at the Sharks.
In the latest SA Rugby magazine, Nche chatted to veteran Durban-based journalist Mike Greenaway about his move from the Cheetahs to the Sharks, while switching PRO14 action for the Vodacom Super Rugby spotlight.
‘I chose the Sharks because of the way they aimed to play under Sean Everitt, and I felt this was not dissimilar to how the Cheetahs play,’ Nche explains. ‘They are the right union for me at this time when I am looking for a change of scenery to give my career a boost.
‘I felt that at this juncture in my career I wanted to be among World Cup winners, and already I have felt the benefit of that,’ he says. ‘Some might think that guys like Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am would be relaxed and comfortable after what they achieved at the World Cup but they have said after some of our sessions: “That was not good enough … let’s do it again.”’
Nche says he learned much in the northern hemisphere and now is adding the nuances of the southern-hemisphere approach to rugby.
‘For my position and front-row play in general, the two competitions are different – the PRO14 is massively set-piece oriented,’ he says. ‘The belief is that the tight-five forwards win you games and the focus is heavily on that area. In Super Rugby everybody gets a touch of the ball in what is a much more fluid and open game. That is the big difference.’
Nche has just one Test cap to his name, which came in the disappointing 22-20 defeat in Washington back 2018, but his form at the start of Super Rugby this year certainly added his name to the national conversation once again.
‘I am in a better place to deal with Super Rugby now because I have learned so much about set-piece play in the PRO14 and I know what I have to improve on. Super Rugby is a uniquely southern-hemisphere competition and I enjoy the rugby,’ he commented.
‘The north is a lot more tactical. You know exactly what they are going to do in a specific part of the field, and they will go 25 phases until they break you down or tire you out.
‘In Super Rugby, if something is 50-50 on, then you are encouraged to go for it … I feel like the team in possession is more evasive whereas in the north, they just come at you.’
*The full interview with Nche will feature in an upcoming issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix