Mbonambi bids sad farewell to Nyakane: "He's going to be missed‚ not by me but the whole team."
Their Rugby World Cup (RWC) bromance is over. Bongi Mbonambi on Monday reflected on the loss of Trevor Nyakane as trusty room and teammate after the latter was forced to return home because of the calf injury he sustained in the 23-13 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday.
While Nyakane heads home‚ the equally versatile Thomas du Toit will be travelling this way to replace him.
Mbonambi was particularly sad he could see off his chum.
“I was actually saying goodbye to him.
"I couldn’t really say goodbye because I had to be here (facing the media) and he had to go pack. I was going to help him pack‚” said Mbonambi.
He was philosophical about his mate’s departure.
“It happens. It is part of the sport. Trevor really worked hard to where he is. He has worked hard to get the respect everyone gives him. He is going to be missed‚ not by me but the whole team.
“He brings a different vibe wherever he walks in. He just gives his bright smile and lights up the whole room.”
“I’m gonna miss him as a teammate and a roommate. We have a World Cup to focus on‚” stressed Mbonambi.
Forwards coach Matt Proudfoot lamented the loss of the team’s most versatile prop.
“It’s really sad for Trevor. He’s had a tremendous season‚ he has worked incredibly hard. He’s quite comfortably made his transition from loosehead into a really serious international tighthead.
“He’s a great guy in the group. He’s probably Bongi’s best mate. He is a guy who is going to be missed. We wish him well. We have told him to go home and work at it (the calf).
"Who knows what this competition holds‚” said Proudfoot perhaps leaving the door open for a potential return later in the tournament.
In Thomas du Toit the Boks have opted for more or less a like for like replacement.
There is a school of thought that maybe the Boks interest might be better served had they gone for a specialist tighthead prop like say Wilco Louw but they opted for versatility.
“Thomas is someone who has been with us for some time in the build-up‚” said Proudfoot.
“He has the ability to play both sides and that was important in our decision. Trevor fulfilled that role for us‚ so it was an important decision to make. Who could do both sides?
“Thomas’s evolution is quite well developed and we have a lot of trust and faith that he will bring his own skill set to the team. He is a very destructive ball carrier. He is very good over the ball defensively.
"He got a lot of energy. He is very powerful on the loosehead side and strong on the tightead side. He is great cover coming in for Trevor."
Proudfoot said Du Toit would probably have played against the All Blacks in Wellington earlier this year had he not had ‘a bit of tick bite fever’.
“We are comfortable with the knowledge he has‚" he said.
"It’s great to welcome him back. He’s a big man with a big engine. He will be a good asset to us as well.”