TROUBLE AT THE BULLS
‘Disappointing’ – Jake White reveals ‘gut feeling’ about S’bu Nkosi after winger’s Instagram post
Blue Bulls director of rugby Jake White says the flying winger has some decisions to make following his recent social media post.
Speaking before the Bulls’ vital Currie Cup match against the Griffons on Thursday, director of rugby Jake White chastised World Cup-winning winger S’bu Nkosi’s recent Instagram post.
“He’s a talented player but I’m very disappointed with what he wrote on social media. He knows that, I’ve had a meeting with him,” White said about the caption on one of Nkosi’s posts.
Nkosi posted a picture of himself scoring one of his two tries against the Barbarians for the World XV in the Killik Cup on Saturday, at Twickenham, with the caption:
“It was reviving to my passion, to spend a mere week with men who are pure of heart. A break from being judged by men who are bigger in their minds than they are in reality.”
Although Nkosi didn’t make any direct reference to the Bulls or White, White reiterated his disappointment in reading the comments.
“Considering the Bulls let him go and play in a game overseas… to read the comments he made was obviously disappointing.
“He’s got to make decisions [about his future], he’s a big boy now. He’s got to make decisions about where he wants to go, and it’s not always in anyone else’s hands other than the player.
“At this point in time… he’s not playing well enough, he’s not training hard enough, I don’t see him enough for him to warrant selection above guys who have been training in the group anyway.
“It’s not for me to discuss a guy’s future; as I said he’s a big boy now, he’s a World Cup-winning Springbok – he must make decisions about where he wants to be and make sure those decisions are in the best interests of both himself and the club.
“It would be sad if [his career fizzles out]… I’ve got kids his age. I don’t think anybody would like to see someone go from a World Cup winner to not being guaranteed to play rugby.”
Nkosi only joined the Bulls in 2022, having played all of his senior rugby at the Sharks in Durban. But the relationship between the 27-year-old and the Pretoria-based union has been strained in its short tenure.
Nkosi was absent without leave – owing to mental health struggles – for three weeks towards the end of 2022. Before that, he was sent home from a United Rugby Championship (URC) European tour for missing a team meeting.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi safe and physically unhurt
Nkosi was required to have mental health assessments by professionals, attend a stipulated number of sessions and go through a thorough support programme, following his disappearance.
If that was my son and he was 26, 27 years old, I would worry about him.
At the time, “Sbu the person, not Sbu the rugby player” was the priority for Bulls chief executive Edgar Rathbone – while the CEO was cautious about committing to retaining Nkosi’s services in the longer term.
“It’s difficult to put a timeline on it (Nkosi’s rehabilitation). We need to give him his space to get back to full health,” Rathbone said at the time.
“We are arranging that support for the time when he’s ready to get that support. We are there to give him his space. I said to him that our goal is to get him back on a rugby field and feeling like a champion again, even if that means it’s not at the Bulls.”
‘He needs to find something overseas’
White, meanwhile, suggested a move away from the union, for the 16-cap Springbok, in April this year.
“I’ve spoken to his agent, and my honest feeling is he needs to find something overseas,” White said. “I think he’s mixed up here or he’s in a net here, but I don’t have evidence of anything.
“When he was at the Sharks [the disappearance] happened and it happened here. I’m not sure if he doesn’t need to get away and start again. I think he battles with whatever [that’s bothering him]. My gut feeling is that I don’t think he battles with anything other than that he needs to get his life sorted.
“He was married and had a child, but he’s now got a girlfriend and he’s got two kids with her. If that was my son and he was 26, 27 years old, I would worry about him.
“He needs some guidance. I think that’s when he runs away… that he needs some guidance.”
White conveyed his concerns about Nkosi’s lack of discipline with regard to training too, as the Bok wing was relegated to the Currie Cup squad at the back end of the URC round-robin phase. Nkosi has also not been called up to any Springbok training squads, as the team prepares for the World Cup in France later this year.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Sbu Nkosi’s rugby future unclear as Bulls assess their options
“Sbu is here, he’s training now, but he comes and goes. It’s one of those things where you can’t put pressure on him when he’s not here because you don’t know what he’s going through,” White said in April.
“He could be missing Monday and Tuesday, and you can’t be hard on him because he could be struggling. It’s one of those really difficult situations, unless you really know what’s going on.
“And he doesn’t share that, which we also respect. You can’t force that out of someone. He’s got a full-time psychologist who works with us.”
Attempts to reach Nkosi were unsuccessful and the Bulls did not reply to requests for further comment. DM