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Sbu Nkosi: Springbok speaks out on mental health issues after his disappearance

Springboks and Bulls flyer Sbu Nkosi has spoken about his recent disappearance, saying he has been battling mental health issues due to the pressure of playing rugby at an elite level.

The Bulls found the 26-year-old at his father’s house in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, after he had not been seen for three weeks, during which time the Pretoria-based franchise reported him as missing on duty South African police.

A security company helped find Nkosi

Bulls general manager Edgar Rathbone located Nkosi after receiving information and help from a security firm, which is one of the team’s sponsors.

The player was in good physical condition and is confident that he is on the right track to get back to full fitness.

” I feel much better. There’s obviously a lot to say that I can’t say out loud, but my condition is improving,” Nkosi told News24.

“It was just a lot of mental pressure. It’s been building for a few years now, since the Sharks saga, and it’s been a bit of a tough time.

Nkosi previously played for the Sharks between 2017 and 2022 – before joining the Bulls in May – but also struggled with discipline in the Durban-based side.

“I was just trying to stay calm. It’s been a battle,” he added.

“There’s too much to talk about: the expectations, the fact that by choosing to take care of myself right now, there are people I’m letting down, and that hurts me too.

“There are a lot of them, but I’m at a point where I have to prioritize the person over the rugby player at the moment.

“I just needed time. I was curled up at a ball with my dad, and he’s been dealing with my mental state on a daily basis.

Nkosi had not reported for work at the Pretoria-based franchise since November 14 and initial efforts to track him down were unsuccessful.

The Bulls finally released a statement on Monday afternoon that revealed they had found Nkosi.

“The Blue Bulls Company and the Bulls family are pleased to confirm that contracted player Sbu Nkosi has been found safe and sound,” the statement read.

“After lengthy and thorough efforts by the Vodacom Bulls, in conjunction with SSG – who exceeded their commercial responsibility – at 2:02 p.m. on Monday 05 December 2022, Nkosi was located.

“Once it was established that Nkosi was safe, unharmed and able to speak, general manager Edgar Rathbone entered Nkosi’s home (courtesy the player), spending time alone with him, to understand how the company can best provide him with the support he needs and what that support is.

“As the Bulls family, we are delighted that Nkosi is safe.

“We would like to thank all members of the public who shared information that helped our research. We would also like to express a word of thanks to the international community who have also joined in the appeal and search efforts of Nkosi.

Rathbone admitted to being relieved to find Nkosi alive and physically healthy, but said he was “sorry” the 2019 Rugby World Cup winner was in poor mental health.

“We had a high-level conversation about the way forward,” Rathbone said.

Ready for a break from rugby

“It’s clear he wants a break from rugby and the Bulls will give it to him. I’ve told Sbu and his dad that wherever we can help him through this process is the reason we went to Emalahleni.

“For me, it was just a relief to see him alive. It hurts my heart to see him in this state where he is not happy.

“Because we had a good relationship, I want to make sure he gets back on track, even if it’s not at the Bulls.”

READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: Bulls confirm Springbok winger Sbu Nkosi has been missing for three weeks

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