South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus challenged his players to seize their Rugby World Cup chance ahead of Saturday’s test against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld, and wing S’busiso Nkosi rose to the occasion.
Nkosi scored a brace of excellent tries as the Springboks ran out 24-18 victors having rested 18 players to allow some fringe selections to stake a claim for the World Cup squad that will be announced on August 26.
The 23-year-old wing was always likely to be on the plane, especially after injury to first-choice Aphiwe Dyantyi makes the latter’s participation highly unlikely.
But the sight of him dancing down the wing, evading four Argentine defenders and showing the athleticism and skill to dot down, has perhaps catapulted him into a starting place in the World Cup opener against New Zealand in Yokohama on September 21.
“I just went on the pitch to try and do my job and help the team to the win; that was all that was on my mind. I got the double so I’m very happy,” Nkosi said. “It is only fun when you win; you can score five tries in a game, but if your team loses then your contribution amounts to nothing.”
Nkosi’s softly-spoken nature is in stark contrast to the electricity and energy he provides on the pitch, and he reveals he relies on instinct with the ball in hand.
“I’m not thinking at that time. I am just in the flow and my instinct takes over and I just do what my body feels like it must do. I woke up after I scored the (second) try! I realised I had just scored a try because I had simply been in the zone…It’s not tunnel vision, but it is a state where all my senses are completely heightened, I just see everything happening in slow motion and I just try to do what I do. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t…The fact that it made a difference to the result make the tries that much more special.”
Nkosi also bagged a brace on debut against England in Johannesburg in 2018 and now has seven in his eight tests, including another at Twickenham in November.
Erasmus wanted players to give him a reason to pick them for Japan. Nkosi has answered that call in fine style.