To drop four kilograms in a month is not that easy
Errant Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane and the Free State Cheetahs are desperate to put the unfortunate events of the past few weeks behind them.
Nyakane, who was dropped from the South African squad ahead of the trip to Mendoza and the return Rugby Championship match against Argentina, has been named in the Cheetahs team to face the Sharks in a Currie Cup Round Three match in Bloemfontein on Friday.
And Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie said they are "happy" to have the jovial Bok prop back in the squad, despite the off-field saga that saw him being punished by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer for his errant ways.
The 24-year-old - who came on as a replacement in all three of the June Tests against Italy (his debut), Scotland and Samoa - was axed for "repeated breaches of team protocol".
The breaches included missing flights, a video session and a trip to the OR Tambo Airport - from where the Boks departed for Argentina this past Sunday.
It was the trip to the airport, ahead of the team's departure for Mendoza, that tipped the scales.
The Cheetahs backline coach, Fourie, admitted that there had been issues with the player's conditioning in the latter stages of the Super Rugby competition, but revealed to this website that Nyakane arrived back from the Bok team four kilograms lighter than when he departed Bloemfontein a month ago.
Despite media reports that Nyakane's poor conditioning could have been a contributing factor to his axing from the national team, Fourie told this website that the player was in better shape when he returned this week than when he left for the Bok squad last month.
"We were a little bit worried about it [his conditioning] and we did give him extra training to do," he said.
"If he is not in the starting XV and he only plays 20 or 30 minutes off the bench, he tends to add a few extra kilograms.
"He was five or six kilograms heavier than what we wanted him. In the latter stages of [the] Super Rugby [season] he was on a special [training] programme and had to do extra [work] to shed those unwanted kilograms.
"We passed that on to the Boks and they continued with the same stuff [programme] and yesterday [Tuesday] he was four kilograms lighter than when he departed to the Bok team.
"You can see he did work on it - to drop four kilograms in a month is not that easy."
The Cheetahs assistant said that as for the stuff that happened in and around the Springbok camp, they are trying to put that behind them "as quickly as possible".
"A lot has been said about it [his axing from the Bok squad] in the media the last few days," Fourie said, when asked about Nyakane's return to the Cheetahs team.
"From our point of view we are very happy to have him back. As everybody would have seen, we really struggled in the scrums against Western Province [last week] and he will make a big difference in the team.
"For the Cheetahs the return of Trevor is a timely boost.
"He was punished fairly for what he did wrong," Fourie said, adding: "However, we also feel it is time now to move on.
"He was wrong, he acknowledged it, got his punishment and he has learned his lesson.
"Trevor will only come back a better player for it."
Fourie also said that Nyakane has managed to put the disappointment of his axing behind him and is moving on.
"He was very disappointed with himself and what happened," the backline mentor said, adding: He certainly takes it serious, the fact that it happened and that he was wrong.
"However, yesterday [Tuesday] at training he was his old self again.
"He is a great guy to have in the team, jovial and full of jokes. He always lifts the spirit in the team and yesterday we could see it was the real Trevor, a player who is at easy with himself."
By Jan de Koning