Boks suffer major Nyakane injury blow in World Cup opener against All Blacks

New Zealand's flanker Ardie Savea (R) is tackled by South Africa's prop Trevor Nyakane during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between the All Blacks and the Springboks in Yokohama.
New Zealand's flanker Ardie Savea (R) is tackled by South Africa's prop Trevor Nyakane during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between the All Blacks and the Springboks in Yokohama.
Image: Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP

The Springboks suffered a cruel double whammy here on Saturday.

Not only did New Zealand grab the early initiative in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup‚ but tight-head prop Trevor Nyakane’s tournament is likely over.

Nyakane‚ who came on as a substitute in the 55th minute‚ departed the scene with a serious calf injury 20 minutes later.

He hobbled off and he required assistance from his teammates to get him to the bench.

The Boks have an able replacement in Vincent Koch but their options are now limited with Nyakane‚ who can pack down on either side of the scrum‚ out of commission.

The burly prop must be gutted as he enjoyed a sterling season with many marveling at his durability through the Super Rugby and international season.

There will‚ however‚ be a huge sigh of relief that Pieter-Steph du Toit did not get injured as was first thought.

The strapping flank stayed down holding a leg following a tackle but it turns out he had only developed cramps.

Du Toit got up and went on to be the Boks’ top tackler with 13 by final whistle.

New Zealand's full back Beauden Barrett (L) attempts to run past South Africa's wing Cheslin Kolbe.
New Zealand's full back Beauden Barrett (L) attempts to run past South Africa's wing Cheslin Kolbe.
Image: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

Lock Franco Mostert made the second most with 11 which is a good indicator the big men spread themselves thin.

“It wasn’t because of a lack of effort but a lack of execution. If the effort was there the coach did something wrong‚” said coach Rassie Erasmus.

Despite the 10-point winning margin the Springboks dominated parts of the game.

They were in the All Blacks’ half 59 percent of the time‚ and they held 53 percent of the possession.

Crucially however the All Blacks made seven line breaks to the Boks’ five‚ while the men in black beat 35 defenders to the Boks 28.

That in itself tells the story of how the Boks need to turn their huffing and puffing at the All Blacks’ door into something deeply destructive.

The All Blacks defence line was typically stout but the one Springbok who made inroads was right wing Cheslin Kolbe.

“Cheslin took on the these guys on and he was a great example‚” said Erasmus.

Kolbe looked set to score in the right corner in the second half when he turned Richie Mo’unga inside out before the All Blacks flyhalf made a miraculous try saving tackle in the corner.

“That was a match wining tackle‚ or close to it‚” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Kolbe looked down cast afterwards‚ perhaps in the knowledge the impact a try then might have had on proceedings.

“When I do get the opportunity I must make sure I can give as much momentum to the forwards as possible.

“I should have backed myself a little more and made the decision earlier. I should have gone to the outside as quickly as possible. He showed a good pair of wheels to get back into the corner. I’ll just make sure that when I get another opportunity I capitalise and finish it off‚” said Kolbe.

“Obviously we come and try and get the win to get the momentum going but I think there were stages in the game that we were in it but did not capitalise.

“They just capitalise on our mistakes. We must make sure that we keep on working hard and prepare well for the next game.”

“We must keep our heads up high and avoid negativity. Stay positive and have a good mind set.”

The Boks now head west for Nagoya in the direction of tropical storm Tapah. Thankfully they won’t be on a collision course and the Boks may hope the worse for them in this RWC is over.

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