It is easy to point out the dreadlocked hooker Joseph Dweba in a Cheetahs lineup, not the least because of his irrepressible form in the last few months.
Two tries for the Toyota Cheetahs in their opening PRO14 game against last season’s finalists Glasgow Warriors only served to underline the same form that made him one of the standout players in the Currie Cup over the past few months. It’s clear Dweba is intent on taking that form into Europe over the next few months.
His round-one performance included two tries, six carries for 38 metres, one clean break and three defenders beaten. Eight tackles on the night and missing only one lineout on the evening makes for pleasing reading for the hooker.
But what few people know is that there is a deep-rooted motivation for the burly hooker to play the way he does. After building over the last PRO14 season, Dweba’s change in the last 12 months has been apparent in his form, so much so that there is already talk of being noticed by the national selectors if he keeps this up.
Dweba’s motivation comes not from a desire to succeed, but closer to home than that. The 23-year old became a father just over a year ago, making him reassess his life and what he wants to achieve out of his rugby career.
‘I’m just motivated. That’s it. I’m motivated and the person that is driving me is my son. I’m basically doing this for him,’ Dweba explains.
‘I’ve now got a reason why I’m playing this game. Back in the day I only had a reason to play for my family but now I have a responsibility to take on. If I don’t perform there is no food on the table. If I don’t play, nothing is going to be eaten. That is my motivation.’
At 14 months old, his son Khayoné Nkosi Dweba is the centrepoint of his life right now, and Dweba wants more than anything to create a legacy his son can look up to.
While Super Rugby may be popular in South Africa, the hooker believes his skill levels have improved by competing in PRO14 Rugby and that the weekly tests he faces up to against international players has made him a better player all-round.
‘The competition helps us a lot to grow as players. You get to test yourself against the best of the best. You get to test where you stand in world rugby, and that is important, especially for me as a hooker.
‘You play against internationals and you can see where you are lacking and where can I improve my own game. We saw that in the Currie Cup as well and our success there proves that we are learning from everything that we are doing.
‘People say that PRO14 isn’t quick, but it is a lot quicker than they realise. You could see that from last weekend’s game against Glasgow. With Super Rugby, one mistake is a try while with PRO14 you get tested in terms of physicality.
‘We saw this against Glasgow or Ospreys or Leinster. They keep the ball for phases and phases, until there is an opening. In Super Rugby it is more skill, and they are looking for one on one mismatches. That is the one difference for me. Your all-round game needs to be better.’
At the moment he isn’t thinking about higher honours. Simply put, he wants to enjoy his rugby and inspire his son. Anything extra is a bonus.
‘To be honest, I’m really just enjoying myself and my rugby,’ Dweba adds. ‘I want to do this for my family and use the talent that has been given to me. Whatever happens will happen and that is what has been currently happening.
‘I’ve been enjoying myself and the results have been coming through. And that’s just me.
‘I’m a plain old person, I love free spaces and to be with my kid. I focus all my attention on him. Even if I come home miserable, he changes it into a smile and keeps me going. That’s me, nothing special, just loving spending time with him.
‘I just want to build on what I’m doing, and to play consistently and enjoy my rugby.’