Pretoria - Bulls coach Nollis Marais has given under-fire prop Trevor Nyakane a massive vote of confidence ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Nyakane, capped 28 times at Test level, has recently been vocal on his desire to play at tighthead prop despite having made his name as a loosehead for both the Cheetahs and the Boks.
He was given that responsibility against the Stormers last weekend but was scrummed out of the game by JC Janse van Rensbrug at Newlands as the Bulls were blown away in the first half to lose 37-24.
Nyakane and Bulls scrum coach Gary Botha both came under fire following that result, but while Marais has made a change at loosehead with Lizo Gqoboka replacing Pierre Schoeman, he has shown faith in Nyakane in the No 3 jersey once more.
"I can say it’s not an issue, but if you look at the score
and the set piece domination that we gave away at the weekend, obviously there
is something that we need to fix," Marais said of the Bulls scrum after his team announcement on Thursday.
"It’s an issue that Gary (Botha) is working hard on
and he took a lot of flak this weekend, which we accept. There are some things
that we need to fix.
"I do believe Trevor will make it on tighthead. He needs a
bit of confidence. He played well against the Chiefs (in pre-season).
"Trevor has played for the
Boks against England and Argentina at tighthead and he can make it. If I do
changes now I think the guy’s self-belief will not be there. I had a long
discussion with Trevor and Gary and I think that Trevor will get better and
Even Bulls captain Handre Pollard was asked to comment on Nyakane's mind-set ahead of what is a crucial clash on Saturday.
"Trevor is an experienced guy. He’s played at the highest
level for many years. He knows he struggled last week and he’ll be focused for
this one. I don’t need to motivate Trevor for this weekend," said Pollard.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 19:30.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Danie Mienie, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ruan van Rensburg
15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Renaldo Bothma, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant