How Nyakane turned it around
Cape Town - Springbok and Cheetahs prop Trevor Nyakane is smiling again... that famous smile South Africa fell in love with after his breakthrough season in 2013.
Nyakane spoke to the MyPlayers website
about his journey to rugby redemption after working through his troubles on and off the field.
The 25-year-old showed outstanding form during the Cheetahs' impressive Super Rugby campaign, which saw them qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their tournament history.
He showed amazing progress as he was able to make an impact at loosehead or tighthead prop.
Nyakane then received a deserved call-up to the Springbok squad and made his Test debut against Italy in June last year. He went on to play against Scotland and Samoa, and scored his first Test try in the latter fixture. Nyakane clearly had a bright future ahead of him.
However, things quickly turned sour for the big man.
After breaching the national team's protocol more than once, head coach Heyneke Meyer
dropped Nyakane from the squad. Things worsened during Super Rugby this season as Nyakane lost his starting place and featured mostly on the bench.
"It wasn't an easy experience to go through," said Nyakane. "At the one stage, I was enjoying life and felt nothing could get any better. Then suddenly, I found myself in difficult circumstances.
"As I reflected on the situation, I could only blame myself. I decided to go into things with a clean slate and work hard to prove myself again.
"My girlfriend, family and friends offered an amazing support base. They told me to keep grinding, which helped me remain motivated."
And it worked.
Nyakane showed enough during Super Rugby to give Meyer the confidence to recall him to the Springbok squad for the June internationals. He then came off the bench to play in the 55-6 win over Scotland last weekend to claim his fourth Test cap.
"It was amazing to be back with the Springboks. Everybody welcomed me," said Nyakane.
"Looking back, I see my difficult circumstances as a blessing in disguise. The experience has helped me realise to never stop working hard and always to do what's required."
So what's next for Nyakane?
He has to decide on his Super Rugby future as his contract with the Cheetahs comes to an end in November. He's also being chased by the Bulls and Stormers, who have put in decent offers to sign the Springbok prop.
"I still haven't decided what to do yet," explained Nyakane. "I want to make the best decision for my career. I want to be in a team that plays winning rugby... one that will offer me playing opportunities."
Whatever Nyakane decides, you can bet he will be doing all that he can to achieve success; showcasing that famous smile on and off the field.For more exclusive player content, check out MyPlayers.co.za