WP leadership 'can't stop smiling' at Notshe's Bok news

Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Gallo)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Gallo)

Cape Town - On Thursday, it just so happened that the Springbok and Western Province teams for their respective Rugby Championship and Currie Cup fixtures this weekend were announced at exactly the same time.

It meant that when WP coach John Dobson and captain Chris van Zyl started their press conference a little after 13:30, they had no idea of the make-up of the Springbok team - and that Sikhumbuzo Notshe had been selected to start at No 8 against the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth. 

After a few routine questions looking ahead to WP’s top-of-the-table Sharks clash (14:00 on Saturday), Dobson and Van Zyl were asked to speak about Notshe’s first Springbok start.

The reactions of both coach and captain were priceless and they told their own story of just how much respect there is for Notshe at the union. 

Notshe has come a long way under Dobson's mentorship, with the two having worked together prior to Notshe making his first-class debut for WP in 2013. 

It is a relationship that clearly means a lot to Dobson, who couldn't help looking like a proud father after hearing the news. 

"That's absolutely brilliant," a visibly elated Dobson said.

"What's changed dramatically with him in Super Rugby this year is his work rate on the field. 

"A lot of people have levelled against his physicality, but he's got so much intensity. I think he has matured a lot. 

"I couldn't be happier, because he puts so much effort in and he's such a good guy."

Van Zyl, at one point, had to stop mid-sentence.

"I actually can't stop smiling," he said, taking a breather after explaining that Notshe's brief stint with the Blitzboks had helped him evolve into a better player.

"At the breakdown especially, I think he's become next level. He could always return kicks-offs with interest and run, but I think his work-rate off the ball has been exceptional.

"It's amazing."

Dobson then told the story of how Notshe ended up at Western Province.

Having come from the Cape Town township of Nyanga, Notshe was given a scholarship at Wynberg Boys High School after being spotted by a scout at the Under-13 Craven Week.

"He came from a very modest background ... beyond modest," Dobson said.

"For him to be playing No 8 for the Springboks ... it's unbelievable. It's a wonderful story."

Van Zyl, meanwhile, said Dobson deserved a lot of the credit for where Notshe is today.

"I can speak on Dobbo's behalf. He has invested a lot of time and energy into Notshe and they've got a great relationship," Van Zyl said.

"I know that Notshe looks up to Dobbo a lot."

Kick-off on Saturday between the Boks and Wallabies is at 17:05.

Teams:

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

Australia

15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Rob Simmons, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks

 
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