Bok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi has revealed that his trademark try celebration owes its origins to watching the All Blacks’ haka as a young boy, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Pretoria.
In his debut Test season, Dyantyi has scored six tries in eight matches. His passionate celebrations are quickly becoming a thing of legend, with the 24-year-old raking his fingers across his chest in what looks to be a metaphorical breaking of the chains.
This Saturday, Dyantyi will once again front up to the All Blacks – a team who he scored two tries against to inspire the Springboks to a famous win in Wellington on 15 September.
The opportunity to face the revered reigning world champs is one that excites the confident young man.
It’s one of the teams he grew up watching as a passionate rugby player, and when Tana Umaga led the first Kapa O Pango haka in 2005, it captured his imagination. Indeed, there are few more iconic rugby images than Umaga roaring passionately before crossing his arms across his chest.
In one of the more light-hearted moments at a press conference in Pretoria, Dyantyi took up the tale.
‘It [the celebration] comes from the adrenaline I feel in the moment, but the story behind it is that when I was growing up, I watched a lot of rugby with my brothers. As any spectator, one of the greatest moments is marvelling at the haka, and it was no different for me.
‘Watching Tana Umaga do it with so much passion, I kind of got it from there, and then I tried to take it and make it my own, and incorporate it into who Aphiwe is,’ he commented with a wry smile.
The evolution of Dyantyi’s celebration also continued when watching a film about a Kenyan tribe called the Maasai when he was in Grade 7.
‘There was a kid from the royal family [in the film] who has to go through an initiation process into manhood,’ he explained. ‘The kid goes out into the wild and he faces a lion that he goes on to defeat. He did a similar sort of thing [celebration], and it’s also where I drew my inspiration. It’s kind of like conquering lions.’
The winger has started his Test career at a high rate of knots, and has drawn inevitable comparisons to Bok legend Bryan Habana. However, Dyantyi is blazing his own trail and he remains determined to establish himself as his own man.
‘I’m just really flattered by the comparison [to Habana], but that mainly comes from you guys [the media]. He [Habana] is a legend in his own right, and he’s proved himself on the biggest stages. But I’m Aphiwe at the end of the day, and I’m trying to carve my own path and make my own history.
‘I want to enjoy every opportunity, because not everyone has this opportunity [to play for the Boks], so I just want to make the most of it.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 4, 2018
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images