How prop Trevor Nyakane forced his way back into Bulls starting line-up
Bulls prop Trevor Nyakane missed three Super Rugby opening matches in February after he failed to meet the stringent fitness standards set by coach John Mitchell‚ sparking fears that his career at Loftus was over.
The Springboks forward was not picked for matches against the Hurricanes‚ Lions and Reds as he was sent back to the gym to improve his conditioning by no-nonsense Mitchell who was shaking things up in Pretoria.
Fast forward to three months later‚ Nyakane has forced his way back into the starting line-up after he proved his fitness and has since started in their last five matches against the Crusaders‚ Stormers‚ Sharks‚ Rebels and Highlanders.
“When you are properly conditioned‚ that’s when you start enjoying your rugby‚” he said this week as the Bulls prepared for the trip to the Cape Town to take on the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
“When you are in good shape‚ you can do things and you also recover quickly.
"Obviously set-pieces are taxing on a front row player or the pack but if you are properly conditioned‚ the next guy may not be able to keep up with you for at least 60 minutes.
"Being well conditioned is one of the things you need at this level and I feel good about myself and enjoying my rugby at the moment‚” he added.
Nyakane added that he is not the only player who is enjoying the benefits of being in top physical conditions and they are also enjoying the fact that coach Mitchell has given them the license to think outside the box.
“I have always believed that there is skill in our pack‚" he said.
"The coach always gives us the license to do what we want to do in the park and the physicality is always there from the guys.
"Sometimes you don’t have to put the players in the box because we are big boys.
“We remain a work in progress but there are lots of things that we are learning and we will get better and better.
"Personally‚ with experience things are starting to happen and you understand the position you play in and the things that are needed to be done to have a successful scrum.
"At this point in time things are going very well and credit must go to the guys behind me like RG Snyman‚ Jason Jenkins‚ Lood de Jager because they do a lot of hard work.
"Back in the days‚ you had locks that just wanted to do line-outs but guys want to scrum and get stuck in.
"It helps a lot as a prop to know that you have the backing of your back five.”