Nche was named in the Boks’ opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Australia in Pretoria in July, which the Springboks won 43-12, but he was forced to withdraw days before the match after suffering the injury.
His hard work off the field and dedicated rehabilitation regime, however, saw him being selected for the Rugby World Cup squad, and the strong front-ranker cannot wait to pull the green and gold jersey over his head.
“I tore the muscle in gym,” Nche explained. “But I’m excited to get a chance to play and I want to make a good impression. I plan to take each game in my stride and just do my best.”
Nche admitted that he had feared the worst at times during his time on the sidelines and said: “It crossed my mind a few times that I may not make the World Cup group because everyone was playing well and the team was progressing nicely. But I’m grateful to be here and I plan to give my best.”
He added: “When you have an injury, you have to work twice as hard as the other players so that you can prepare yourself for the collisions and demands of the game, so it’s good to be here.”
Nche admitted that it was a surreal feeling to be selected for his first World Cup, especially since he only took up rugby in Grade Seven and said: “I was an academic at school and played sport for fun. I didn’t take it seriously until I fell in love with rugby. But it just shows that if you love something, work hard and put your mind to it, anything is possible.”
Nche expected a grind of a forward battle against the Welsh at the Principality Stadium and said: “Wales are pretty disruptive in the set pieces, and they try to lure the opposition into the way they want to scrum and maul. So, it’s going to be important for us to stick together and execute our plan.”
Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe also expected the Boks to be tested thoroughly on Saturday and said: “They’ve brought back a few experienced guys, so they have a nice balance of youth and experience. It is a good team with guys who can run the show, but the important thing for us will be to focus on what we have to do.”
Asked what it meant to the team to have his close friend, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, back in the squad after recovering from knee surgery, Kolbe said: “It’s massive for us to have Siya back in the mix. The way in which he set his mind to his rehabilitation and returning to play shows what it means to him.
“The experience and energy he brings to the team is great, and it was also good to have him give input from the sidelines while he was on the road to recovery.”
The Springboks will have Thursday off to rest and recover and will return to the field on Friday for their captain’s run.