Sizzling Sanele Nohamba provides an interesting option for Springboks

Sizzling Sanele Nohamba provides an interesting option for Springboks

Lions star Sanele Nohamba's utility may give him the edge when it comes to Springbok selection later this year.

With the Springboks' game plan currently built around their forward-dominant bench, utility players become worth their weight in (green and) gold. Nohamba's comfort in both pivot positions, along with his goalkicking ability and dazzling form have no doubt piqued the interest of Bok coach Rassie Erasmus. 

The nippy No.9 has been switching between scrumhalf and flyhalf under budding cult hero coach Ivan van Rooyen and continues to be incredibly influential in the Lions' attack.

Nohamba was a regular at scrumhalf early on in the season, but with flyhalf Jordan Henrikse suffering a long-term injury, the Lions' brains trust needed a new strategy. Nohamba got a run at No.10 while the combative Morne van den Berg was brought in on his inside.

The move clearly paid off, as Nohamba has sparked the Lions' backline, taken over the kicking duties with aplomb and collected 95 points in Hendrikse's absence.

The diminutive utility back's form has earned him a place in the first Springbok alignment camp of the year, but Nohamba is under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead to crack the Springbok squad. 

"I was speaking to my dad a couple of weeks ago and he was proud, but then I looked at it from a different perspective to say the only way that got me there is playing well here [at the Lions]," said the 25-year-old on the Behind the Ruck podcast this week.

"It's just alignment camps for the moment so you still have to come back and perform again, so that's what I was having a chat to my dad about.

"He [kept] saying he's proud of me and I was like 'thank you but I still need to go to the alignment camp'. I can't have a big head now. I have to come back again and work hard at the Lions, play good rugby and then it gives me a shot again to get an opportunity.

"How I look at it is if you play well for your union and help them win games, especially big games, then you put your best foot forward for selection at the highest level."

Whether it's a snipe around the breakdown, a chip and chase into space or a snap drop goal, Nohamba has been a visionary for his franchise in both positions. The Alice native revealed that this versatility was born out in his schoolboy rugby days, where he ran out for Durban High School.

"I got the privilege to go to DHS and there was this one 'gun' nine, he was really good," recollected Nohamba.

"[So coach said] try at No.10. Luckily, he was my age but the grade above so he left early. So at school, I played a bit of both.

"So when the coaches ask me to transition between both positions, that background helps."

With the Boks' opening match of the year - a clash with Wales at Twickenham in London - being outside the official Test window and just before Ireland arrive for their highly anticipated tour of the Republic, Erasmus may opt for an experimental XV for the trip to test the Boks' depth. 

Should he continue his red-hot form, Nohamba is primed to don the No.10 lab coat and cook up something special for the Springboks in June.

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