British & Irish Lions

Notshe desperate to earn British Lions shot: 'If I miss this, I'll never play against them'

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Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Gallo)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Gallo)
  • Sikhumbuzo Notshe is desperate to play for the Springboks against the British & Irish Lions later this year.
  • The Sharks number 8 has climbed the national pecking order over the last two seasons. 
  • The Boks will play three Tests against the British Lions on home soil from 24 July - 7 August. 

All six of Sikhumbuzo Notshe's Springbok Tests came in 2018, before he had made his move from the Stormers to the Sharks. 

Notshe debuted in that Washington DC loss to Wales in 2018 in what was Rassie Erasmus' first Test at the helm of the national side. 

He then featured off the bench in all three of the Boks' 2018 home Tests against England, where Siya Kolisi announced himself as the South African captain, and went on to play in two Rugby Championship Tests that same year.

By the time the 2019 World Cup squad was selected, though, Notshe was no longer in contention. 

Now, a move to Kings Park later, he absolutely is once more. 

In Super Rugby 2020, before the tournament was scrapped as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Notshe was one of the form loose forwards in the southern hemisphere. 

He is strong, skillful, smart on the ball and on the ground, while there is an element of x-factor from open play that has accompanied Notshe's game either side of the national coronavirus lockdown. 

Ahead of the start of the Rainbow Cup, Notshe was an unsurprising inclusion at a Springbok alignment camp in Durban last month. 

Duane Vermeulen will always be the first-choice Bok number 8 as long a he is fit, but Notshe is looking increasingly the next in line and a versatile loose forward bench open.

"I'm not going to lie, everyone wants to be in the Lions squad," the 27-year-old told media on Tuesday.

"We've had Springbok alignment camps and there are things that were put out there, which I won't share, that are expected from us as rugby players and everyone wants to play.

"It doesn't come around often. It's every 12 years and it's a generation thing. If you miss it, you miss it. Some players have never had it and some players have."

The competition for Springbok places is what makes the next five weekends of Rainbow Cup action so important. 

The Sharks, having beaten the Stormers in Cape Town this past weekend, host the Lions at Kings Park on Saturday and while his eyes are firmly on representing the Springboks later in the year, Notshe is not getting carried away. 

"It's a huge honour and a privilege to be part of, but to be honest with you, I'm more worried about the Golden Lions coming this weekend than the British Lions," he said.

"If I don't play well on Saturday, then nothing will guarantee me playing for the Boks against the Lions.

"But I won't say it's not something that we are looking forward to.

"World Cups come around every four years and this is a 12-year thing.

"I remember I was almost 16 in 2009 when they [the Lions] came around. If I miss this one, I'll never play against them. It's the honest truth."

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