Johannesburg - Scarra Ntubeni didn’t have to search very hard when asked if there was a silver lining to his omission from the Springbok squad that is in Nelspruit preparing for Saturday’s opening Rugby Championship fixture against Argentina.
According to the SuperSport website, the Western Province and Stormers hooker was in the squad that was selected for the Ireland series but did not wear the green and gold, and he was also part of Heyneke Meyer’s group at various stages through the past two seasons without getting the reward of playing in a big match or at the World Cup.
So he spent a lot of time sitting frustrated on the sidelines, and has said in the past that not playing impacted on his form and therefore progress as a player.
“It is a blessing not being in the Bok squad because if I was I probably wouldn’t be playing rugby for the next eight weeks,” said Ntubeni.
The hooker spent much of the Super Rugby season playing second fiddle to Bongi Mbonambi, who did get a taste of test rugby in June, and feels that a stint of uninterrupted rugby as a member of the WP starting team may be just what the doctor ordered for him as he tries to regain his old form and momentum.
WP face the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in their second Currie Cup match at Newlands on Friday and Ntubeni is relishing the prospect of playing against the in-form team from Bloemfontein.
“There hasn’t been a great turn-out for Currie Cup so far but we are all professional rugby players and we’ve played in front of small crowds before. I’m sure the Newlands faithful will be there and that always makes a big difference,” he said.
“The Cheetahs are a strong Currie Cup team as they have pretty much the same side that played Super Rugby. It was a tight game against them at Newlands in Super Rugby. We only won the match when Sikhumbuzo Notshe kicked the ball through and scored near the end, otherwise they just never went away and only lost by seven points to a full strength Stormers team.
“The Cheetahs beat the Bulls last week with a high tempo game and the key was gainline dominance and good work at the breakdown in keeping the ball. If a team capitalises on one or two things then it can make life difficult for the opposition so we are going really have to be on top of our game in all aspects on Friday.”
Ntubeni said that he and coach John Dobson had had a discussion before the Currie Cup started and he had made it clear he wants to make it a big Currie Cup for himself personally.
“My career has been very stop start because of injuries in the past few seasons. I was though part of a full Super Rugby season and feel like I am building again. I haven’t had a good season in two years and am looking forward to making up for that.”
The WP team for the Cheetahs game is to be announced later on Wednesday.
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