Cape Town - Cheetahs prop Ox Nche is making the most of his opportunities this season.
Nche has been one of the standout performers for the Bloemfontein-based union in 2016, which has seen him make his Super Rugby and Currie Cup debuts this season.
The 21-year-old was named the man-of-the-match against the Blue Bulls two weeks ago as he scored a try and delivered a powerful performance during Free State’s 43-20 win.
Nche was a decorated player at junior level, having played two seasons of SA Schools in 2012 and 2013. He also played for Shimlas in the Varsity Cup, Free State U19s and U21s, and represented the Junior Springboks in 2015. So it’s no surprise that the HTS Louis Botha old boy has enjoyed a successful step-up to senior level.
However, Nche remains humble as he hopes to continue his improvement and development in the Currie Cup.
“I didn’t expect to get the opportunities I received this year. My big aim was to play some Currie Cup rugby this season, so when Super Rugby came my way, I made the most of it,” Nche told MyPlayers.
“It’s been a great learning experience for me. The game is so much quicker and more intense at higher levels, but I’m happy with the way I’ve adapted so far. There’s always room for improvement and I hope to make a positive impact every time I’m on the field.
“As a young player, you need to be mentally strong to make an impact in the big competitions. Always remain humble, keep a level head and give every opportunity your best.”
Nche added his front row battles against more experienced props will help him become a better player.
“I had a great scrum battle against the Waratahs and the Stormers. Western Province at Newlands were also tough. I picked up a lot from those matches and I hope to become a better scrummager with time,” said Nche. “I also want to improve my mobility around the field - carry more balls and clean more rucks. I want to develop into front-rower that adds value across the field.”
The Free State Cheetahs are currently second on the Currie Cup Premier Division logo following wins over Boland, Western Province and the Blue Bulls. After enjoying a bye last weekend, they now face the EP Kings in Bloemfontein on Saturday. A fourth straight win will confirm their status as Currie Cup title contenders.
Nche said this year’s young Cheetahs squad is more focused at this stage of the season.
“As a team, we’re playing much better since Super Rugby. The players are more focused on the overall team goal, which has helped us gel better as a unit,” said Nche. “We might have a young squad, but we all have the desire to make our mark during the Currie Cup. They say youth brings more hunger. We believe we can do very well in the competition, especially if we build on our good form.”
Off the field, Nche is excelling too as he’s currently studying a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Statistics at Free State University. Who said props weren’t the smartest players on the field?
“I understand the importance of studying and gaining academic experience during the earlier years of my professional rugby career,” said Nche. “I love rugby a lot, but I also know that it’s not going to be part of my life forever. I really enjoy stats and numbers… so when I’m not on the field, I spend a lot of time with my books. I hope to complete my degree in 2017. If I had to choose a second career, I’d probably look into becoming a stats analyst.”
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