Cape Town – The Bulls finally confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that prop Trevor Nyakane has signed for French club Racing 92, but coach Jake White says the Pretoria side are “comfortable” with the front-row depth in their squad.
The Springbok prop, who is equally comfortable at tighthead and loosehead, proved his worth in the recently concluded international season when he packed down on both sides of the scrum.
That would’ve shot up his value, especially in France, where there is a high premium placed on top-quality props who can scrum well. So, Nyakane is a two-in-one deal for all intents and purposes, so there was little hesitancy from Racing’s side to pay out the remainder of his Bulls contract, reportedly worth up to R5 million.
“We are delighted to welcome Trevor Nyakane to our team. He is a mature player with great experience at the highest level. We will gain from these qualities, and he will also be a good example and someone who will be able to impart his knowledge to our young players as they continue to grow,” Laurent Travers, Racing 92’s director of rugby, said in a statement.
“His versatility and ability to play both on the left and right side of the scrum will be highly appreciated. We cannot wait to see him join our ranks, and we hope that we will have some great rugby moments together.”
During an online press conference on Wednesday, White explained that the signing made a lot of sense for Nyakane and the Bulls as well.
Today we say goodbye to loyal servant and Vodacom Bulls colossus Trevor Nyakane 💪 Big Trev, we will miss all your larger-than-life smiles, massive scrums and big hits. Good luck with your next chapter at Racing 92 👏 Sterkte, brother ✊ pic.twitter.com/DLCkjo6VSN— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) December 1, 2021
“We are busy planning to get one or two other tightheads to join our squad over the next year or two. Trevor was never going to stay forever – that’s something that we always expected… Not for any other reason that post another World Cup, I can’t see him wanting to play domestic rugby,” White said.
“The timing is not always in everyone’s favour. If he goes now – which is highly likely – we haven’t had him for six months, and probably won’t have him for a big chunk of next year with Rugby Championships and the incoming tours. And we definitely won’t have him in 2023, when there’s preparation for the World Cup.
“If you do your sums and you work out your return on investment – not taking anything away from Trevor, who has been fantastic for the Bulls, and is an unbelievable team guy – but sometimes, even the great Alex Ferguson knows when to release players, and sometimes it’s the right time.
“We are very comfortable as a group, and behind the scenes, we are doing lots of developments to find tighthead props, and Currie Cup coaches and whatever we need, to make sure we stay a strong union.”
Mornay Smith is most likely to start at No 3 for the Bulls against the Sharks in their URC SA derby on Friday in Durban (7pm kickoff), with veteran Jacques van Rooyen and youngster Robert Hunt also in the squad as tighthead back-ups.