Future Star: Sikhumbuzo Notshe

Sikhumbuzo Notshe plans to build on his impressive 2010 and play a key role for school, province and country this season.

The 17-year-old Wynberg Boys’ High loose forward was one of the standout players for Western Province at last year’s Craven Week in Welkom, which saw him selected for the SA Schools and SA U18 High Performance teams. With the experience gained in the past year, Notshe believes he will be a better player in 2011.

‘Playing at a national level is a big step up, the standards are much higher,’ says Notshe. ‘But that has only motivated me to work harder. I’ve been hitting the gym and focusing a lot on my conditioning.

‘This season, I want to do well for my school. Wynberg has about 10 1st XV boys left over from last year, so it will be an experienced side. We will look to beat some of the top schools this season, but the main prize will be beating Grey PE for the first time at 1st XV level. It will be a big challenge for us.’

Notshe was born in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape but moved to Cape Town at a young age. He attended Nomlinganiselo Primary before continuing his schooling at Wynberg, where he has played 1st XV rugby since Grade 10. Notshe has also represented WP at U12, U13, U16 and U18 level in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Notshe started his career playing centre and fullback, but made the switch to loose forward two years ago, which he feels has paid dividends.

‘The transition was difficult early on. I didn’t enjoy all the binding and rucking and spent too much time in the backline,’ says Notshe. ‘But I managed to get used to being part of the pack and got the basics right eventually. I’m enjoying it. Being part of the backline early on in my career has helped me as a loose forward, especially on attack and with my handling.’

Wynberg 1st XV coach James Whinston believes Notshe will be a key player in his team this season.

‘Sikhumbuzo is an explosive athlete, and can create a lot of momentum with ball in hand,’ says Whinston. ‘He’s rugby smart and plays a leadership role in the team. He also has a big influence in a match. When he plays well, he tends to lift the spirits in the team, which we will need in this tough upcoming season.’

Notshe says he doesn’t have any set plans after school as he is ‘100% focused’ on 2011.

‘I turn 18 this year, so it’s my final opportunity to be selected for the WP Craven Week and SA age-group squads as I will be too old in my matric year,’ says Notshe. ‘My goals are to maintain and improve on the standards I set last season and to be a better player. Next year, I can start deciding on my future. The decisions I make will be the best ones for my rugby career.’

By Gareth Duncan

– This article first appeared in the March issue of SA Rugby magazine.