'Nel should be a Bok'
Bloemfontein – WP Nel had an incredible game for the Barbarians against the All Blacks and was unlucky not to be part of the Springboks’ tour to Europe.
That is the view of former Springbok assistant coach Alan Solomons who helped coach the Barbarians alongside Nick Mallett in last Saturday’s game against New Zealand at Twickenham. The Barbarians won 25-18.
Tighthead prop Nel was the only player in the invitational side without Test experience. It is a custom that one player in the Barbarians side should not have played international rugby before.
Solomons said that the Free State Cheetahs’ front-ranker more than stood his ground.
“He had an excellent game for the Barbarians and was part of a scrum that in my view gained the upper hand over the All Blacks,” said Solomons.
He added that Nel is a world class tighthead, a team man and unlucky not to have become a Bok yet.
“There is no doubt that he will become a Bok. He is an outstanding rugby player,” said Solomons.
Nel’s inclusion in the Barbarians side crowned an excellent year. Together with his Free State team-mates, they got the better of every scrum in the Currie Cup.
Nel said it was incredible to experience the All Blacks’ haka.
“It was special. I can’t describe it in words,” he said.
He played the full 80 minutes and is satisfied with his performance.
“It was a big surprise to be able to play for the full 80 minutes. I got a little tired, but pushed through,” said Nel.
Prior to the Barbarians game, Nel last played against the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup final on October 31.
Nel played the Barbarians game in Free State socks because of the custom that the players should run out in the socks of their club or province.
Like Solomons, Nel believes the Barbarians stood their ground in the scrums.
“Despite not even scrumming together as a pack in training, we scrummed very well,” he said.
Nel added that he enjoyed scrumming against Wyatt Crockett (loosehead) and later Neemia Tialata (replacement loosehead), but that the Kiwis did not give him major problems.