Hacjivah Dayimani says he is happy to have Springbok eighthman, Warren Whiteley, back in the Lions squad even if it means he loses his place. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - He's been one of the stars of the Golden Lions team in this year’s Currie Cup competition, but Hacjivah Dayimani said this week he is more than happy to stand back for the returning Warren Whiteley in Saturday’s semi-final against the Sharks in Durban.

Dayimani has been something of a revelation in the No 8 jersey during his team’s campaign, but will more than likely play off the bench this weekend. “I actually see it as a big positive,” said the 21-year-old about initially observing the action from the side of the field come Saturday.

“I enjoy playing off the bench and find it easier. That way you actually see what’s happening on the field, where the pressure’s coming from, what the loose-forwards in the opposition team are doing, who’s staying out wide. When you start all you see is jerseys in front of you.

“Seeing things from the side first allows you to exploit certain things when you do get onto the field. I really feel the coaches are helping me in a way by giving me a spot on the bench.”

And with his speed and skill, the former Jeppe pupil could cause plenty of havoc in a semi-final that is sure to be a lot closer and tighter than when the teams last met – in mid-September when the Sharks won comfortably, also in Durban. “When we faced them the last time there was a bit of inexperience in our team, but now there’s a lot of confidence and we’re looking to deliver,” said Dayimani.

He added the return of Whiteley especially to the Lions squad this week was a big boost for his own development and growth as a No 8. “With the Springbok players coming back, and especially Warren returning, it’s another opportunity for the youngsters in the squad to learn and grow.

“And again I can look at what he (Whiteley) does and take it on board. I’ve observed him a lot in training and in games and I know one thing that stands out is he understands the game so well, and that’s something I want to get better at. At the moment I just go out there and play, but it’s the things he (Whiteley) does outside the game that are good, like studying players. I’m excited to keep on learning.”

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It’s been quite the season for Dayimani, a Currie Cup campaign he hopes will bring new and exciting opportunities next year – perhaps in Super Rugby? “The Currie Cup has been big for me. I really thought I’d be playing for the U-21s again, but now I’m playing in my second semi-final.

“I’m grateful the coaches backed me ... now it’s up to me to keep knocking on the door, showing guys like Warren and Duane (Vermeulen) I can also step up. This is the way forward for me, to next year.”

And while the Sharks have had the edge over the Lions recently, Dayimani revealed the Lions would deliver something a little different come Saturday. “I feel if we go in and fight their fire with fire it’s not going to work. We must find other ways (of getting the better of them) and do what works for us. We know what worked in Super Rugby, and we’ll focus on those things.”

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen will name his matchday squad for the semi-final around midday on Thursday.

IOL Sport

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