Western Province loose forward Nama Xaba is eager to put an unfortunate run of injuries behind him and focus on having a big season in the Currie Cup and United Rugby Championship.
The 24-year-old Xaba has had a bit of a stop-start career to date, with injuries setting him back just as he has looked to establish himself in the Stormers side.
“I have been quite unfortunate with getting all these injuries. Being so young as a player it seems like whenever I gain momentum I have a setback,” admitted Xaba.
“So I try not to think about it too much and just have some self introspection. I know that it can happen to any player and what matters is how you bounce back from these injuries.
“So I am trying to come back as a better player and a bit wiser and hopefully I can have a full season without any injuries, so I just have to have faith and keep on going.”
Xaba has been named as captain of the Western Province team to take on the Lions in their Currie Cup opener at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and is fully focused on the task at hand, to help get him back to his peak.
“The first thing for me is to play the best rugby I possibly can and keep improving as a player, so that is the biggest thing for me,” said Xaba.
“As a young flanker of 24 going to 26 that’s where a lot of players get to their peak, so it is important for me to make sure I get on the pitch, stay healthy and get as much game time as I can to improve and get up there.
“I obviously have high aspirations, obviously everyone who plays domestically wants to be a Springbok and all that. But I can only take it game by game.”
Xaba will be looking to polish his all-round skills in the Currie Cup and get himself prepared for when the Stormers URC side calls and he will hopefully be able to establish himself as a starter from there.
“I wasn’t always a fetcher growing up, I was a big kid in a small team so I was more of a ball carrier, but as people caught up I had to adapt. I first understood how much of an influence you can have as a player if you slow ball down, so I tried to model my game around that,” explained Xaba.
“But obviously I know if you want to be world class you can’t just be a one trick pony, you have to improve in other aspects and be well balanced. So right now I am trying to have an impact not only at the breakdown but with power stopping tackles and also giving the team momentum.”