WP coach John Dobson says the game-breaking ability of talented Hacjivah Dayimani makes him a welcome addition to the Western Province ranks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Until recently, Dayimani was still recovering from a knee injury suffered last November, with the versatile loose forward having been conspicuous by his absence on the rugby radar over the past six months.
Yet, he has now linked up with Western Province on loan from the Lions, and was immediately included on the bench for Saturday’s Currie Cup clash with the Bulls.
In terms of loose-forward stocks, Siya Kolisi has recently headed to the Sharks, Jaco Coetzee has made the move to Bath, Juarno Augustus is also off to England, and Pieter-Steph du Toit will be spending some time in Japan from later this year.
Described by many as a ‘freakish athlete’, Dayimani’s progress has been hampered by injury and some differing opinions over whether he would be best deployed in the back row or, in fact, somewhere in the backline.
As a player who has featured on the sevens scene and who can run a sub-11sec over 100m, he is able to offer a massive threat in the wider channels due to his explosive speed that complements his natural strength and size (Dayimani weighs in around 100kg and stands 1.88m tall).
So, there can be no doubting what a shrewd move it has been for WP and the Stormers to swoop and snap up a pure athlete in the form of Dayimani, particularly as they continue their to build a squad that aims to boast a few more X-factor threats among the forwards to go with the familiar reliance on a rock-solid scrum.
To know Dayimani’s story also provides powerful insight into the character of the man, and how much it means to him to have become a professional rugby player. It’s a career that was beyond his wildest dreams during a humble, hand-to-mouth upbringing.
Just recently, this powerful feature was published in SA Rugby magazine, where Dayimani documented his remarkable journey with searing honesty. It’s a must-read.
‘To be seen, I need to play,’ he stated at the end of that interview. ‘I see inspiration all around me. From my family. Even my friends, who showed me I can’t be like a gangster. That could never be my life. I never once thought of giving up. I always felt I was destined.’
Ahead of Dayimani’s Western Province debut, Dobson said the Cape Town-born 23-year-old’s story was certainly filled with inspirational qualities.
‘When you look at the circumstances of where he came from and everything he has gone through and achieved, there is definitely a bit of romanticism about him coming back to Cape Town.
‘But the first criteria was rugby. With Trokkie [Augustus] and Coetzee gone, we wanted someone with X factor. We are trying to play a fast-paced game, and you definitely don’t get many faster forwards.
‘At 23, Hacjivah has a massive future ahead of him. He hasn’t been able to play much at the Lions lately, but a guy who can break games open like he can certainly makes him an exciting prospect. We also wanted guys who have versatility, and so we’re thrilled he’s here.’
With this in mind, Dobson was asked whether they’d perhaps consider Dayimani as an option in the backline, but the WP coach said that he was primarily being viewed as a flank.
‘He hasn’t been with us long, so we really just wanted to get him here and integrated, and he is part of our plans for future. Maybe down the line there could be an argument about possibly looking at a six-two split on the bench because he offers that option with the ability to cover wing, but right now we see him as a flank.’