Pretoria - Sometimes you need to pack your lunchbox yourself that you know you’re going to have a great meal.
And in Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane’s case, the change was small, subtle and significant enough to propel him from questionmarks over his ability at tighthead, to being the starting prop for the Springboks in the crucial Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Salta on Saturday night.
Of course, the lunchbox has nothing to with food. The analogy was used by Nyakane’s Bulls’ scrum coach Daan Human to explain the revolution that went on in Nyakane’s game this season. And how he went from a good prop to being a test starter.
Human’s influence at the Bulls cannot be underestimated, and the scrum coach has a unique outlook on life, especially when it comes to the props he works with.
Nyakane has been part of the Springbok setup for a long time now, but the change this year has been significant, and coincided with Human’s arrival in Pretoria, making him the perfect sage for explaining how Nyakane has found the form that has helped the Springboks in their quest for the Rugby Championship this year.
And Human’s philosophy explains a lot what happened with the Bulls front row of Lizo Gqoboka, Schalk Brits and Nyakane this season.
“You know if you pack your lunchbox yourself, and it comes to break time, you know what you are going to eat. We just tried to pack the lunchbox that we would have a lekker meal. I hope they do the same that side in Salta,” Human said.
“But I’m really proud of them, and especially Trevor, he has done extremely well and had a great weekend against the All Blacks. The system had a significant impact, and they worked well.
“My advice is that you need to stay humble and keep those feet on the ground, and concentrate on the next opponent and give him the necessary respect.
“I’m really proud of Trevor, Schalk and Lizo and we worked hard. If you look at Lizo and Trevor, they were the only front row to start in every single Super Rugby match. And if you asked me back then when I started with them, and we looked at how they looked on that day, you wouldn’t believe it was the same players.
“But it was just a bit of belief from everyone and we packed them just right.”
But surely it can’t be as easy as that. But Human says sometimes it is the smaller things, the minute details that make a difference rather than massive continental shifts.
“If I’m talking about him and Lizo specifically. We’re all the same, we don’t like conflict, we enjoy affection. You just have to bring a little bit of trust into the equation and help him believe in himself. If he knows we back you, he will give everything. We might not always go forward, sometimes we may stand still, but we will never go backwards.
“We really just backed the guys a bit and he worked hard for himself and the team and he listened. It’s easy in year one with a new coach with new ideas to listen to him. Everyone needs to be involved to keep the intensity up there and it isn’t the practice sessions, what is important is the game. And that is one thing we got right in the entire management. It is more a team effort. We didn’t change too much and we enjoyed working with them.”
Human is specifically hoping Nyakane and the Bok front row lay the platform for the Boks in Salta, and bring the Rugby Championship home with them, but he knows the dangers of underestimating the Pumas.
“The Pumas have always been known for their scrumwork, and Augustin Creevy is a meneer. He’s an old dog in the fight,” he smiled.
And for that reason alone he believes the Pumas will rectify their scrum problems from the game against the Wallabies.
Nyakane and the rest of the front row know the importance of their task in the setpieces and the platform it can lay for their teammates.
And once again the recipe is clear. Pack that lunchbox the right way and the outcome will simply be delicious.
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