CRAIG LEWIS picks five up-and-coming youngsters who will be worth keeping an eye on this year.
In the October 2018 issue of SA Rugby magazine, Hacjivah Dayimani colourfully documents his unconventional path to a professional rugby career, which included defying his father’s wishes to give up rugby in favour of boxing. It’s the fascinating story of a determined youngster, who displayed glimpses of his immense potential in 2018. The Lions’ back-row depth has been somewhat depleted in recent times, and last season saw Franco Mostert shifted into a role at flank, but the regular lock has now joined up with Gloucester. There is an opportunity for Dayimani to gain some further Super Rugby experience this year, with the 21-year-old boasting rare X factor and mobility for a back rower.
The Sharks utility back was already making a name for himself in last year’s Currie Cup when he further caused the local rugby fraternity to sit up and take notice as he remarkably chased down Bok superstar Aphiwe Dyantyi in the Durban semi-final. Fassi is the sort of prodigiously talented youngster who could almost play any position in the backline. However, it’s likely that he will be considered on the wing and at fullback during Super Rugby. The 20-year-old boasts oodles of raw talent, and will now face his next challenge of making the step up to Super Rugby.
The Junior Springbok star displayed all his potential as he scored a memorable hat-trick of tries against Ireland at last year’s World Rugby U20 Championship. Blessed with speed, strength and natural ability, Simelane is one of the brightest young prospects in South African rugby. The 20-year-old is set for his first full Super Rugby season in 2019, and should add valuable depth at centre. Although the youngster is capable of doing a job on the wing, there is no doubt that his best position is at 13, where has the space to offer a real attacking threat.
Libbok is another Junior Springbok who will be looking to come of age in 2019. In fact, he will be looking to pick up where he left off after producing one of the most memorable performances of his career in the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup semi-final against Western Province. Currie Cup coach Pote Human reiterated his full faith in a maverick talent such as Libbok, and so it will be interesting to see what role he envisions for the 21-year-old in Super Rugby. Handré Pollard will serve as the Bulls’ first-choice flyhalf, but Libbok will provide capable backup, while also offering an option at fullback.
After being named as the World Rugby U20 Championship Player of the Tournament, Augustus hasn’t quite broken through as expected at senior level, largely due to some unfortunate injuries. However, his trademark physicality and work rate was in evidence for a large part of the 2018 Currie Cup, and there are certainly signs that this year could be a big one for the youngster, who has the moniker ‘Trokkie’. The big No 8 is in a similar mould to former Stormers legend Duane Vermeulen, and he will be desperate to enjoy an injury-free season of Super Rugby that could well put him on the Springbok radar.
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