JOHANNESBURG – For the fourth match in a row, exciting loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani will run out at No 8 for the Lions – an indication the Joburg team have perhaps shelved, if only temporarily, thoughts of playing the dynamic 20-year-old in the centres.
There had been talk during this year’s Super Rugby competition that Dayimani’s future may lay in the backs, and especially in midfield.
But he has not come close to wearing the number 12 or 13 on his back in this year’s Currie Cup competition.
In fact, so impressive has Dayimani’s form been at eighthman that Lions stand-in coach Ivan van Rooyen was left waxing lyrical about the tall, speedy loose forward on Thursday.
“Hacjivah is in a good place in his career right now. He’s growing all the time, and I’m truly excited about his future,” said Van Rooyen.
“He’s put in a lot of work to be physically stronger, he’s doing lots of video work, too... and he’s become a real physical specimen.
“He’s a proper athlete, and I’m so happy for him for where he is right now in his career.”
Lions captain and scrumhalf Ross Cronjé, who’s usually the guy that picks up the ball at Dayimani’s feet at scrum-time, called the former Jeppe star “explosive”.
“I just want to pass him the ball to see him do his magic... he’s one explosive player. Every time he gets the ball, you get the feeling something’s going to happen.
“He just plays the game differently... he’s just so fast, it’s like having three wings on the field.”
Cronje also lauded the work put in by Dayimani in the last few months.
“If I’ve noticed one thing about him recently, it’s that he’s changed his whole mindset and puts so much work in, which is awesome to see. He’s really grown as a player and human being this year.”
Dayimani will be joined in the Lions loose trio by another work-horse in fetcher specialist Marnus Schoeman and rookie Len Massyn for the round five Currie Cup match against the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Massyn coming into the side in place of Vincent Tshituka for his first start at senior level this season is one of three changes to the side that beat the Free State XV last weekend.
In the second row, Reinhard Nothnagel replaces the concussed Wilhelm van der Sluys, while in the midfield, Eddie Fouché comes in for Jan-Louis la Grange, who also picked up concussion last weekend.
Also coming into the Lions squad for the first time is wing Duncan Matthews, who’s joined the team from the Bulls, and he’ll fill a spot among the replacements on Saturday – against his former team.
The Lions Rugby Company would like to welcome Duncan Matthews to the #LionsPride. He will make his Currie Cup debut for the Xerox Golden Lions from the bench this weekend.#LIOvBUL pic.twitter.com/gjju8anxJK— Xerox Golden Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) August 8, 2019
The Lions go into the match with a three-from-three record, while the Bulls have won just once in four outings so far.
Tyrone Green, Madosh Tambwe, Wandisile Simelane, Eddie Fouché, Stean Pienaar, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronjé (captain), Hacjivah Dayimani, Len Massyn, Marnus Schoeman, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Johannes Jonker, Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole.
Bench: Jan-Henning Campher, Leo Kruger, Chergin Fillies, Rhyno Herbst, Vincent Tshituka, James Venter, Dillon Smit, Duncan Matthews.