Nothnagel fulfills childhood dream with Lions captain – The Citizen

Rising Lions lockdown talent Reinhard Nothnagel fulfilled a childhood dream last weekend when he led his side to an impressive victory against United Rugby Championship heavyweights Edinburgh.

Nothnagel, 24, was unexpectedly parachuted into the captaincy role after Burger Odendaal was in close contact with Covid in the build-up so he was unavailable for the game and regular captain Jaco Kriel walked out with a long-term injury.

Nothnagel was born in Krugersdorp and attended Monument High, then worked his way through the Lions age group teams until he finally made his senior debut in 2018.

He has since established himself as the team’s front-row number five and has been in excellent form since returning from injury which coincided with the Lions’ brilliant four-game winning streak.

‘The local guy’

Against Edinburgh last weekend, Nothnagel were a cool head and rallied their troops well, as they picked up a second victory over a top-five ranked side in the past three weeks.

“Being a captain has been every player’s dream since childhood. Especially for a local guy like me who has been here all my life,” Nothnagel said.

“To be honest, taking over from Burger (Odendaal) was unexpected. But thanks to the guys who played with me, they really made it easy for me.

“It’s not just me making the calls on the field. Guys like (flyhalf) Jordan (Hendrikse) help out on calls, which helped me a lot. So it’s teamwork, it’s not just the captain who keeps the clock ticking.

Nothnagel’s return from injury also sparked a turnaround in the form of the Lions roster, which had struggled badly during an injury crisis that coincided with their five-game losing streak at the start of the year.

Alignment Growth

The lineup is now firing on all cylinders and showed it against Edinburgh as they won nine out of 10 lineups on their own throw, while also stealing a number of visitors’ lineups.

“I have to give credit to our roster coach, Coach Albert (van den Berg). We go into a lot of detail analyzing other teams. So it shows our growth. If we had played this game there a few months, we would have lost a few balls.

“But because we understand each other better in the line-up, we know what to do and who does what and that helps us a lot. We also have a lot of confidence now.

“If you don’t have confidence in the line-up and any doubt as to whether you’re going to win the ball, you probably won’t. So that made a big difference with the guys coming into the line-up with that confidence that we know we can win the ball on our own throw and that of the opponent.

The Lions will be next in action in the URC this Saturday when they take on the Sharks in Durban.

Charles P. Patton