Bulls on Sbu Nkosi's future: 'Our concern is for the person, not the player'

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  • Sbu Nkosi's Bulls future remains in the balance but CEO Edgar Rathbone said there were no immediate plans to terminate his contract.
  • Nkosi went AWOL for three weeks before being located at his father's home in Emalahleni on Monday.
  • The Bulls play their historic first European Champions Cup game against Lyon this Saturday at Loftus.

Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi's Bulls future remains uncertain after Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone said their immediate focus was not on the player's contractual obligations as yet but on his personal well-being.

Nkosi told News24 he was battling mental health issues brought on by the pressures of playing rugby at the elite end after disappearing for three weeks from his employers.

EXCLUSIVE | Struggling Bok star Nkosi on being missing for 3 weeks: 'I've been curled up in a ball'

The Bulls opened a missing persons file with the SAPS and appealed to the media to help find the World Cup winner last weekend, who was eventually located at his father's home in Emalahleni on Monday.

Rathbone said they were willing to give Nkosi the break he evidently needed to get back to full mental health and assist him in that regard.

Rathbone added that there were no immediate plans to terminate the player's contract but they wanted to give him the necessary support.

"It's difficult to put a timeline on it. We need to give him his space to get back to full health," the CEO said.

"We are arranging that support for the time when he's ready to get that support.

"We are there to give him his space. I said to him yesterday that our goal is to get him back on a rugby field and feeling like a champion again, even if that means it's not at the Bulls.

"If he needs a new start, that's fine but it's our job to get him ready."

However, Rathbone said going AWOL did have procedural consequences for the player who is employed by the company, although those consequences were not spelt out at the press conference held at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday morning.

"He is an employee of the company and being absent without leave for three weeks does have consequences.

"But, at this stage, I'd say that we're really missing the point if our concern is whether he has a Bulls contract or not.

"We've got a player that's struggling with mental health issues and going through a really rough patch. That should be our concern: how do we get him back on his feet again and he can stand up and become the superstar rugby player that we all know he is?"

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 12: Jake White with n
Jake White and Sbu Nkosi. (Photo by Lee Warren/ Gallo Images)
Gallo Images

Nkosi signed for the Bulls this year from the Sharks with high promise that he'd fill the void Madosh Tambwe, who moved to France, on the wing.

Rathbone said Bulls director of rugby Jake White shared his sentiments of concern for Nkosi's personal well-being ahead of the rugby demands the team continues to face.

The Bulls tackle Lyon at Loftus on Saturday in a historic first European Champions Cup appearance for the Pretoria franchise.

"Our concern at this stage is not for Sbu the rugby player; it's for Sbu the person," said Rathbone.

"Jake obviously has a job to do and to prepare the team for this weekend. Jake's known Sbu for a long time and at this stage his concern is for him as a person."

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