By Zayn Nabbi
With the Currie Cup just a fortnight away, the relatively unknown flank Solly Tyibilika hardly caused a ripple when he stealthily docked into the Shark tank on Monday.
The 24-year-old former Griqua's induction into the Sharks' Currie Cup squad did not have any of the pomp and ceremony that precedes big name imports.
But this by no means has phased the lad, who has his roots deeply planted in the Zwide township in Eastern Province.
In fact he is quite frank in his response to why he is here and makes no secret of his burning ambition to leapfrog the incumbent Sharks' loosies.
"The thing is I want to prove myself. I was at Griquas and I didn't get enough game time. I played in the Renegades and with Lions up until the final of the Vodacom Cup this year and they did not award me a contract. I know there are a lot of flanks here but I must work hard and prove myself."
Tyibilika first aroused Kevin Putt's interest when he played for Jo'burg Club Eldoronians at the Preliminary Tournament in Durban earlier this year.
He was then invited back to participate at the Sharks trial game where his moments of flair warmed up an otherwise icy evening.
"What we saw was a guy with a lot of promise at the club champs and we brought him into the squad to add depth," said Putt. "He's got fantastic distribution skills and he's not afraid to mix it up when it gets tough. We'd also like to think we play a sort of attractive style of rugby and when you consider all of his attributes he would fit into our pattern of play."
Tyibilika's thirst for game time might just be quenched with two warm-up games that will take place in the next couple of days.
And with Luke Watson (with tick-bite fever) being ruled out for the opening game on Friday night against a club XV at Ranleigh Crescent, Tyibilika should get an opportunity to showcase his wares. For him it's simple. "The coach told me it's up to you to just prove yourself. And I'm ready."
Quarter-finals: Maritzburg Varsity vs College Rovers Jaguars vs Durban Collegians DHS Old Boys vs Glenwood Falcons Crusaders vs Harlequins