Is Nyakane just making up the numbers?

Tank Lanning

So prop Trevor Nyakane is only good enough for the Bok bench? What else can one surmise given that Lions tighthead Ruan Dreyer has leapfrogged Nyakane to start against the All Blacks in Albany on Saturday?

Perhaps it’s just a case of a Bok stalwart returning to take his rightful place in the team… Not so much. Dreyer has precisely 54 minutes of Test match experience to call on!

It is this kind of nonsense that gives transformation a bum rap.

“Ruan did well against a powerful French front row in June, and he will start on Saturday because we want to persist with Trevor Nyakane and Steven Kitshoff as a combination off the bench to make an impact in the second half,” said Bok coach Allister Coetzee.

This was way down in the press release after a big splash about Franco Mostert rotating back into the side and Jean-Luc du Preez replacing the injured Jaco Kriel.

And Coetzee’s reasoning only holds water if he had actually used both players off the bench. Nyakane has had 38 minutes of game time in three Rugby Champs Test matches, four of them against the Australians last week. Kitshoff has 80 minutes to his name, 26 of which were last week.

This makes me angry. No one’s allowed to talk about transformation, but the Bok coach is allowed to get away with this!?

All it does is fuel the belief that Nyakane’s involvement in the squad is window dressing. The man has been on the bench for all three Rugby Champs games having achieved the fitness goals asked of him. Give him the start he deserves when the opportunity presents itself!

I am all for picking on merit, and merit alone. But SA Rugby made the decision to guarantee a Bok side that is 50% representative at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, so let’s give it our best shot.

Would I be confident in Nyakane starting at tighthead against the All Blacks? Not really. He is a retreaded loosehead who struggles to hold his own, let alone dominate, at tighthead at Super Rugby level.

But we have now made the call to select him, so we now need to back that selection, and the player.

Otherwise it’s all one big charade. A charade we are not allowed to talk about.

- Tank Lanning

Let's chat

  • Barry Smith

    Agreed a total farce! Not quite on the same page with Dreyer’s 54 minutes though. I think he was disappointing and struggled against fairly weak opposition. To my mind circumstances warranted selection out of SA on this occasion. It is the All Blacks after all. Adriaanse covered last season and should have been considered again! He is mature and experienced.

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      Adriaanse never let the Boks down. Not flashy, and does not do much outside the scrum, but a tighthead is there primarily to scrum

  • gerhard van tonder gerhard van tonder

    All very good points. Can’t argue with a single point you made.

    Nothing in this country is ‘normal’. Especially in sport. Last night Mister Alexander, not a rugby man of any note, mention a NH Springbok team as a consideration for the future. The fact that he mention it, it means SAR Board actually discussed it. Jirre Broer Tank, where will all this end up? What else are they discussing that they don’t share?

    Just for the record, the NH Springbok team coached by Rassie and Ackers will kick the SH Springbok team arses 6-0 6-0 6-0!!

    Just a further point (my little contribution trying to understand ACs selections), to explain all this madness of AC, like your rugby twitter buddy ( @Slipcatch ) mentioned, what if Coach Allister is just a very bad selector? You know it is possible. You know Doc Craven and his dog Bliksem was both naturals, they see a Tiaan Strauss on a cold Thursday afternoon in a hostel 2nds playing centre and next the weekend Tiaan is playing for Maties as a looseforward. But we know Bro Tank, that not all of us humans got the same skills talents abilities (eg look at my writing vs yours). This is now where Coach Allsiter enters the picture, a wonderful human, absolute great with the youngsters, loved & respected by everyone that ever worked with him. He is just a awesome bloke!! But this bloke Allister is scared of his own shadows. He sees a raindrop over the horizon, he tells Elton go deep and kick. Like last week in the 1st 40 vs the Aussies. Asking of Allister to be a selector is just not on. The same asking me to be a preacher man, it will not work out for me.

    In our Springbok history there were lost of examples of bad selections. I am sure you will with ease think about a few. Allister is not unique.

    Allister needs a Rassie to guide him with selections.

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      Incoming … Rassie as a guide in 2018 … just wonder if we might have yet another chief, and not enough Indians … but yep, think your point about AC not being a great selector is true … thing is, though, if not doing his own selecting, then there is always some sort of escape clause when things go tits up. Modern coaches need to live and die by their sides and thus deserve control

    • stormramp

      The fact is hes been told who to select. He is not a selector at all. All he does is say YES or NO. You shudve realised this when he took the job. He had no say in selecting hes own management. So that alone says a lot. They undermined him since taking the job. Like Mallet said-Take your selectors away and maybe just maybe i’ll coach THE springboks. that NEVER HAPPENED BECAUSE THE FAT CATS WANTED IT THEIR WAY

  • Nick

    You’re talking about it here Tank.

    Pictures and all.

    Such courage!

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      You know what they say about sarcasm …

  • Lions Fan '82

    For sure, hats off to you Tank. Usually this would be braai-talk only, but thanks for putting it out there! Same thing happened with Rudi Page. He was 3rd pick after RPienaar and FdPreez in 2015, they left together and Page was also leapfrogged, still leaving him as the 3rd scrummy.

    • Naas.

      Rudi Paige is just a club player.

    • Stanley Hermanus Stanley Hermanus

      Exactly! If you dont believe in a player (whatever the colour) dont pick him. Alister is not a big fan of Elton (like I am), but picks him because he gives in to public pressure. He is not doing any justice to Elton’s huge potential and talent because his Bok team is never going to play a Lions style of game. Pick your BIG forwards and go fetch Morne Steyn. I will still scream Bokkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nick

    Lions fan 82….

    I was being sarcastic.

    Let me be more direct.
    Chucking in the quota/ race stuff is simply unhelpful, But great dog whistle stuff for the type of boring stront we hear vented around braais.

    I see nothing at all wrong with the selection of Nyakane. He has been selected specifically to come on later. Dreyer is a stronger scrummager so starts. Coenie is injured remember. Trev is a different player more suitable later in the game at this stage.

    How would you have selected the front row?

    Tank has never rated Trev anyway.


    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      Not at tighthead, no

  • Barend

    SA Rugby is on record, it was widely published many times last year, after the 2015 World Cup disaster, that there is going to be quotas going forward. They were quite specific that it is not targets, but quotas. The coach has no leeway. They are quite precise on how many black and coloured players have to play each year in the Schools, U/20 and Springbok teams, until the Springboks represent the demographics of the country. How can you now ask if it is something in secret or that we are not allowed to talk about. It is only white people trying to be politically correct who think it should not be mentioned. Trevor is a perfect example of this. He is a specialist loose head, in process of turning tight head, who is very valuable on any coaches bench, as he covers 2 positions, he is black , therefore another plus, he can play some rugby , another plus , but he is not a specialist , dominating tight head, therefore he cannot start Saturday. It is easy for anybody that have coached before to see this. He cannot start as loose head because Beast is the best we have, read merit player, and to boot is black. If quotas was not official rules, how come a SA U/20 team takes to the field with not one white back line player in the starting lineup as happened this year? Please wake up and smell the roses.

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      That’s EXACTLY my point Barend. We all know there are quoatas in place, yet quota selections are defended with rugby reasons, and that’s where it becomes a farce …

      No need for swinger props in modern day 23 man squads … we can have specialists … so I see no reason to have a tighthead on the bench who can’t start in that position

  • TheSpecialOne

    Ya I think it’s great that we can engage honestly about this subject, given that it is a reality.

    Sadly, at this stage, any notion of a meritocratic national selection policy is an obvious farce given the 50% quota. That is to say, it logically follows that if you can’t justify meeting the 50% quota on merit, you must be engaging in window dressing — selecting a player based on anything but merit is not transformation in the true sense of the word.

    I think that Nick may have a point though. It is conceivable that the switch could be justified on tactical grounds. Although, Tank’s point that Nyakane hasn’t played many minutes off the bench is an obvious counter. I think that his lack of game time off then bench only appears peculiar if you’re pretending that he’s there on merit. I offer the same explanation for Rudy Paige and others.

  • Naas.

    Trevor Nyakane is not making up the numbers, he’s just making up the mass.

  • Steve

    Totally agree, Tank. Great article.

  • Charles

    I really feel for Coenie Oosthuizen and his injury as he has now, finally, proven himself as a Bok starter and perhaps even regular at tighthead. His past few games were probably some of the best rugby of his career. Think he made like 15 tackles in the previous game, more than even the loosies!

    I can’t see Nyakane leapfrogging him to become the official nr 3. Needless to say, when Trevor gets on the field, he has a LOT to prove if he is to be seen as a legitimate replacement and not merely, as mentioned, window dressing…

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      A lot to prove indeed. As does Dreyer, who comes unstuck when he can’t use height to defend his position – that Lions scrum goes very low indeed. I hope both players have stellar games but it’s a potential problem area against a strong AB scrum

  • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

    Great to have the discussion firing up here gents … thank you for the comments …
    I think the primary point I wanted to make with this column is that, for better or for worse, quotas are those chosen route being used to address transformation. Whether one agrees or disagrees with that is for another debate. So having chosen this path, then be open about it, and give it a proper tonk. Trevor is the no 2 tighthead in the squad, so play him! How the hell must he feel when he sees Dreyer come in from paternity leave and a Currie Cup game for the Lions, to leapfrog him into the starting team? Having spoken to black players who have been in this position – and sadly there are a few too many of them – I know. And it’s not particular special …

  • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

    And in reference to Hames leap frogging Crockett to start for the All Blacks … I would have started Crockett, but in this instance I can see some rugby reasons for doing what they did … Crockett has over 100 test caps, many of them as a starter. He is a proven test player in the twighliht of his career. They have a new guy that they are going to start, knowing that if it does go tits up, they can bring on a banker. It’s very different to the Dreyer/Nyakane situation, even without the transformation factor.

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