Columnists 22.8.2018 02:51 pm

This Aphiwe fellow is definitely a keeper

Jaco van der Merwe.

Jaco van der Merwe.

Watching the Springbok winger’s remarkable rise to stardom this season, one can only sum him up in a very unique Afrikaans way.

Watching Aphiwe Dyantyi’s remarkable rise to stardom this season, I can only sum him up in a very unique Afrikaans way.

He is what you would call an “agtermekaar kereltjie”.

Loosely translated it means something along the lines of a guy with all his ducks in a row or a guy who’s head is in the right place.

It’s basically the type of ultimate attribute any father hopes for when meeting his daughter’s boyfriend for the first time.
And it’s a tag thoroughly deserved not only for the thrilling tries he scores, but just the general way in which he conducts himself around a rugby pitch.

It’s hard to believe that a mere six months ago Dyantyi was still such an unknown quantity in South African rugby that Lions coach Swys de Bruin referred to him as “that UJ guy” when speaking of his inclusion ahead of their Super Rugby campaign.

And it wasn’t that Swys didn’t know his name – hell, I hope not anyway – but rather that at that particular time Dyantyi’s biggest claim to fame was the huge potential he had shown for the University of Johannesburg in the Varsity Cup that earned him Currie Cup exposure last year.

And the reason his name was mentioned in the first place is that De Bruin was very excited over the prospect of unleashing him.

Clearly that is why De Bruin has a very successful background in developing youngsters as Dyantyi was such an instant hit in Super Rugby that he was destined for higher honours pretty much from the start.

So big was De Bruin’s faith in his protege that he even entrusted him at centre during a midfield shortage later in their campaign.

After making a solid debut for the Springboks against England in June, Dyantyi raised the bar a notch with his great display against Argentina in Durban on Saturday, scooping the Man-ofthe-Match award in the process.

He not only scored two tries, but impressed with his tireless workrate and selflessness in sacrificing a personal hat-trick by offloading to fellow wing Makazole Mapimpi right on the Argentine tryline.
And if his tremendous play on the field doesn’t blow you away, he’s attitude off it certainly will.

In assessing his performance during their post-match television interview, commentator Owen Nkumane asked Dyantyi whether this can only be described as a dream season.

It’s an obvious assumption, because in less than one season Duantyi made his Super Rugby debut, scored on debut against the Sharks, he scored one of the tries of the season with his chip-and-chase from his own half in the semifinal against the Waratahs, he appeared in the championship match against the Crusaders, he finished the Super Rugby campaign with seven tries, he made his international debut, he scored on debut for the Boks against England and he excelled with a further brace in only his fourth Test.

But much to Owen and probably most of the viewers’ surprise, his standards are much higher than that.
“Let’s beat New Zealand … and then we talk about a dream season,” was his response.

Wow.

Just a pity my two daughters are still so young.

 

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