Lukhanyo Am (left) and Sbu Nkosi of South Africa pose with the Webb Ellis Cup
Sbu Nkosi (right) was part of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning squad in 2019

The mental pressure of being involved in professional rugby lay behind South Africa’s World Cup winner Sbu Nkosi breaking contact with his club side Bulls and the winger being reported missing, the Springbok has said.

After several failed attempts to reach and find Nksoi, the 26-year-old was located on Monday afternoon.

And the Springbok, who has won 16 caps and was part of the squad that lifted the World Cup in 2019, said pressure had been “building up for a couple of years”.

“I’m a lot better. There’s obviously a lot that I can’t say out loud but my condition is improving,” Nkosi told South Africa’s News24.

“It’s just been a whole lot of mental pressure. I was just trying to keep myself calm. That’s been a battle.

“I’m at a point where I need to prioritise the person before the rugby player.”

Local media in South Africa reported that Nkosi was found at his father’s house in Emalahleni, just over 100 kilometres east of Pretoria, and the wing has told the Bulls he would like to take a break from the game but intends to return in the future.

Bulls chief executive Edgar Rathbone spoke to Nkosi in person on Monday about providing him with support.

“I just needed time. I’ve basically been curled up in a ball with my dad, and he’s been managing my mental state daily,” Nkosi said.

“I’m not special or different or unique in any way. I think it’s something that needs to be focused on a bit more, whether you’re on top or at the bottom. It’s always a rollercoaster.

“Maybe a little effort needs to be put into how the guys manage the wave of emotions that come with the good and bad times.”

Nkosi was sent home early for breaking team protocol during Bulls’ trip to Ireland for a United Rugby Championship fixture in October.

He is the not the first player to seek a sudden break from the game.

Australia captain Michael Hooper left the Wallabies camp during this year’s Rugby Championship after saying he was not in the right “mindset” to play, but the 31-year-old flanker returned for their recent autumn international series of matches.