Last week, Sibahle ‘Rabs’ Maxwane walked over to Bulls coach Nollis Marais during a training session.
“Coach, I’m not getting an opportunity,” he said.
Marais, known for being straight talker, wasn’t budging.
“Rabs, seven days is a long time in rugby. We’ll see what happens next week.”
On Thursday morning, with his team sheet finalised, Marais called his 21-year-old winger over.
“Rabs, you remember that talk we had last week?”
There’s not a lot to get excited about when it comes to the Bulls at the moment as poor form on the field and administrative tensions off it take their toll on the Super Rugby campaign.
That’s why the enthusiasm of rookies like Maxwane, a speedy try-scoring machine for Tuks in this year’s Varsity Cup, is one of the small joys the Bulls should embrace.
Maxwane, who hails from Queenstown, will make his Super Rugby debut against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
And if he’s remotely given space, the Lions’ defenders better be prepared to catch their breaths.
“I’m not actually sure who’s quicker between Rabs and Jade (Stighling, his wing partner at the weekend),” said Bulls midfielder Burger Odendaal.
“Both those guys wear boots with jets in them. Jade actually had a pretty good debut (against the Highlanders) last week, so I’m pretty sure Rabs can make his mark too. Hopefully, we can make his debut special.”
Maxwane thrilled audiences this season with some superb showings in Tuks’ title-winning campaign.
Given a sniff of the tryline, he would invariably score and showed a willingness for work.
In fact, various pundits believe he was the best wing in this year’s tournament.
Yet the step up from Varsity Cup to Super Rugby is a substantial one and Marais is wary of that.
However, the Bulls have reached a point where some experimentation surely can’t deliver any worse results.
“Rabs has been given an opportunity and he needs to use it,” said Marais.
“He’s up for it. He’s been playing well this whole season and I hope he grows from this experience because we’re going to need him later this season.”
Against a rampant Lions back three, it will certainly be a challenge.
“Look, experience would’ve counted for much against them. But unfortunately Travis Ismaiel and Jamba Ulengo are both injured. That’s the way it is,” said Marais.
“But Rabs and Jade have been working hard. The great thing about youngsters is that they’re fearless.”
It’s certainly not the worst trait to have in a Juksei derby.
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