The Bulls have lost the services of Springbok mainstay Trevor Nyakane but probably have five million reasons to be happy to let him go, with coach Jake White saying on Wednesday that he was “comfortable” with the versatile prop’s move.
The 32-year-old Nyakane, who played in 12 of the Springboks’ 13 Tests this year, has signed with French club Racing 92, and will begin his three-year deal in Paris before the end of the month.
Nyakane had two more years to run on his Bulls contract, however, and the Pretoria franchise will reportedly receive R5 million from one of the leading clubs in Europe in compensation.
“Trevor is no longer with us, although we were going to give him time off until January anyway,” White said on Wednesday.
“He was never going to stay with us forever and post the 2023 World Cup, I didn’t see him playing domestically anyway.
“It was always highly likely that he was going overseas and we haven’t had him for six months anyway, plus we were likely to not have him for big chunks of next year.
“He’s been fantastic for the Bulls and is a great team man, but in terms of return on investment, sometimes it’s the right time to release a player.
“We’re very comfortable letting him go and we are busy planning to get one or two other tightheads in our squad. It’s not ideal losing players overseas, but you don’t want to be paying big money for players if you never see them,” White said.
‘Matt Giteau rule’
The former Springbok coach also suggested that the national team might have to go back to their previous policy of having zero overseas-based players in their line-up, in order to protect franchise rugby at home.
“It raises the question whether the policy of picking overseas players for the Springboks is going to last forever? Because long-term that policy is to the detriment of the franchises and that’s a fact,” White said.
“For me, the Irish and Kiwi model, where only home-based players are picked for the national team, works and they have been successful with it. Australia have the Matt Giteau rule allowing more experienced players from overseas to play for the Wallabies.
“At the moment I’m not sure the franchises get a return on investment because you have so many players unavailable for long periods and we have a salary cap. But we are not as affected as the Stormers or Sharks,” White said.
Laurent Travers, Racing 92 director of rugby, said in a statement: “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.
“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.”