United Rugby Championship: Jake White praised Sbu Nkosi’s try-scoring return for the Bulls

South Africa and Bulls winger Sbu Nkosi training Credit: Alamy
South Africa and Bulls winger Sbu Nkosi training Credit: Alamy

Bulls director of rugby Jake White was delighted with Sbu Nkosi’s try-scoring return to the game after a period away.

Nkosi spent a couple of months away from rugby as he needed some space for mental health reasons but returned on Saturday as the Bulls lost to the Stormers 23-19 at a packed Loftus Versfeld.

The loss was the Bulls’ fifth in a row against the defending champions. Nevertheless, it was an absolute spectacle in Pretoria.

A powerful return

White praised Nkosi for announcing his return with such a strong performance on the day and believes he “looked like a Springbok again.”

“Sometimes we take it for granted that a young boy can go through a difficult time — I thought he played well,” White said after the match.

“His work rate was good, he ran hard, he didn’t look like he has been out of rugby for three months. I am really proud he can play like that. He will get better now he has got a taste of it again.

“He basically broke every tackle when he carried the ball and he looked like a Springbok again. It is always nice when you have that kind of player in your squad.”

White insists he would not punish Nkosi for taking time away from the game and is completely behind his selection in the Stormers game.

“I am a dad of boys who are 31 and 27 of age, and he didn’t need to be punished. I hear people questioning why we are playing him — you don’t get punished because you went away to sort yourself out,” he added.

“He is a Springbok, he is a World Cup-winner, he wants to play rugby and he gets picked to play rugby. I am not going to punish him now because he was going through a difficult time.

“So, I complement [Bulls CEO] Edgar Rathbone and the Bulls for the way they handled it and I complement the way Sbu came back. He had to prove to his teammates he really wanted to play rugby again.

Proud

“As a dad, I am proud of the guy. It must have been difficult for him, he came back after not having touched a rugby ball in three months to play in front of more than 40,000 people.

“It is a great message for rugby and a great message for the Bulls too. What Edgar did and the way we helped him, the sort of response we got — that’s a feel-good story.

“I would have liked for him to have scored another try and won us the game, it would have been a great story, but we can be really proud of the way he has come through. We just have to make sure we help him consistently.”

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