Stormers loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani’s star is on the rise following a second brilliant season in the United Rugby Championship (URC).
He still has the small matter of the final against Munster at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening, where he will have one final chance to showcase his prodigious talent in front of a crowd of close to 55 000 people.
It has been a tough road of ups and downs for the 25-year-old, who just a few years ago was plying his trade up in Johannesburg at the Lions where he was unsure of his future and where to go next.
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But a call from Stormers coach John Dobson changed all that and two years later he is now one of the hottest properties in South African rugby, with some scintillating performances seeing his star rise.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind me that this is all real. When I was at the Lions it was a tough time for me and I never thought I would get out of it. I was playing, then there was a point that I wasn’t playing, and a lot of things were going against me,” explained Dayimani.
“My confidence was down. When I asked people if I was going to be able to play no one would give me answers. It just felt like it was the end for me and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now speaking today ahead of the URC final, it’s something that no one would have expected.
“I am at the point where I am just living in the moment. I take nothing for granted because I have been at my lowest and I have since experienced massive highs.
“So I am grateful for any opportunity and I take nothing for granted. So in this URC final I just want to make the best out of it. I want to give my best and showcase my talent and show everyone what I can do with a smile on my face, being able to express myself.”
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Last week Dobson expressed his belief that the ‘unique’ Dayimani had all the makings of a future Springbok, although he admitted that he was a different type of player who maybe didn’t fit into the current cycle, but would hopefully fit into the next.
It is something that Dayimani agrees with, admitting that maybe he was born too soon, and that if he had been born later he may have fitted in more.
“It is definitely something I have been dreaming about (playing for the Boks). Especially over the past two seasons, it is something I have been working towards,” said Dayimani.
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“So I am going to keep on doing what I am doing and hopefully the Springbok coaches will see what I am doing and it impresses them. It might not be now, it might not be ever. But maybe in the next generation there will be players like me.
“I used to make a joke that maybe I was born 10 years too early because of the way I play, and maybe if I had been born 10 years later the whole world would be playing the way I do.
“But the game is changing and I am doing something that will hopefully start trending and people will see that there is more to rugby than just running into guys and there are other ways to make metres.”
Although it has been suggested that Dayimani should change the way he plays to fit the current mould of loose forwards, it is not something he has any intention of doing as it will take away his individuality and what he loves about the game.
“I realise that my game is different to the way most players play the game. Just like I realise the other players are different from me and bring something to the table that I don’t bring. So I have thought about changing my game to fit in a certain way, but that just takes a lot away from me,” explained Dayimani.
“I don’t want to fit in. I want to stand out, and that’s the best part of my game. I see myself as a game breaker. When the team is down and trying to make something happen, I feel I bring that energy to turn things around.
“It is my dream one day to represent my country and showcase my talents. But I think it might be a bit early. Rugby is changing. Not long ago the mentality was to have big loose forwards bashing it up and being physical.
“Whereas I am a different breed in the sense that I also carry the ball up, but I don’t have to bash it up. So it’s something that I am definitely looking forward to and I am going to keep knocking on that door and hope something happens in the next few years.”