Sharks new man Nche has the attributes to replace veteran Mtawarira
The Sharks are planning for life after Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and latest addition Retshegofaditswe “Ox” Nche has the best attributes to replace the veteran loose-head prop.
Nche will be joining the Sharks from the Cheetahs ahead of next year's Super Rugby tournament.
Mtawarira‚ who's taking part in his third World Cup and has over 100 Test caps for the Springboks‚ is nearing the end of his shelf life as a front-row forward.
His form this season has been anything but on the wrong side of 30 as his strength‚ experience and adherence to basic scrumming techniques sparked an ongoing two-year revival even though one Steven Kitshoff has asked serious questions from a national team perspective.
Nche‚ a Cheetahs stalwart‚ has had to make the move east in search of the Springbok jersey.
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The Cheetahs are the Currie Cup champions and a reasonably competitive Pro14 outfit‚ but the 31-man Rugby World Cup squad was picked from the four Super Rugby franchises and the overseas clubs.
It is a cause for concern for the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs‚ in particular‚ as it gives off a sense that their performances won't be rewarded with national team call-ups.
This is something Erasmus needs to look at next year‚ especially if some of the Cheetahs players ask uncomfortable Pro14 questions as the competition is a difficult tournament that's routinely showed up the Cheetahs and the Kings.
Whether the Pro14 is a better and stronger competition compared to Super Rugby remains to be seen‚ but performances in the former need to be rewarded.
It makes perfect sense for Nche to move to Durban‚ where different questions will be asked of him from a Super Rugby perspective.
He's held up his scrumming end very well in the Currie Cup and in the Pro14‚ but he hasn't had the opportunity of squaring up against the likes of Wilco Louw‚ Frans Malherbe and Trevor Nyakane.
These are the premier tight-head props who play in South Africa and will ask questions of Nche's scrumming abilities.
The Pro14 teams‚ especially the Welsh and Irish sides‚ pack very good forwards‚ but with the Cheetahs not playing Super Rugby‚ Nche hasn't had a Springbok Super Rugby audition. There's no doubt that he's ready‚ willing and able‚ but 2020 could and should be the year where he forces the Springbok issue through the Sharks.
It won't be easy as Steven Kitshoff and Lizo Gqoboka already have the inside lane‚ but the 24-year-old has an opportunity and time on his hands.