CAPE TOWN - Last week, Western Province coach John Dobson said that fans couldn’t be treated to a better Currie Cup final than the one that will be contested between his team and the Sharks on Saturday (kick-off 4 pm, SS1), and I doubt many would disagree with that statement.
In any good game, there’s always a number of battles within the battle and, obviously, this match is no different.
There’s the set-piece contest - one that will of course be a hugely influential area - and with scrummagers like WP tighthead Wilco Louw and the Sharks’ Thomas du Toit, it should be an even bigger arm-wrestle. And the same can be said about the lineouts.
Then there’s the always-rousing loose-forward show - the Sharks’ Du Preez brothers and Keegan Daniel going up against the exciting loose trio of Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, and Cobus Wiese.
It obviously doesn’t end there, both teams boast model backlines as well. And one of those backs to watch at Kings Park is Springbok Dillyn Leyds.
Leyds’ productions this year can only be described as superb, and he’s looked a player sky-high on confidence. Or, that confidence might have actually only been the wrapper for an even more important factor in sport - enjoyment. After all, Leyds has said before that he’s really enjoying his game since returning from injury.
Whatever the case, the season that Leyds has had is a well-known piece of information, there’s no secrets regarding that. In fact, I don’t think there’s much more that can be said about Leyds’ year. Not much that hasn’t been said before, that is.
He’s shown his organisational skills and his ability as a ball player, and when the going got tough for the Stormers - in terms of injuries - during their Super Rugby tour to New Zealand earlier this year, Leyds slotted in where he was needed, even at flyhalf. He also started at flyhalf against the Blues in May, and when SP Marais was ruled out with injury, Leyds impressed at fullback as well.
That form earned him a Springbok call-up, and although he had to bide his time before he got his first Test start, he made proper use of it, and never looked out of place while doing just that against the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
The 25-year-old carried that form into Province’s Currie Cup campaign as well, and he showed just how devastating he can be a number of times. And while his basics said enough, it was his work in broken play and on the counter-attack that made a number of afternoons rather unpleasant ones for the opposition.
Leyds will again play a big role in Kwazulu Natal on Saturday, and at the team announcement on Thursday, WP chief John Dobson highlighted Leyds’ ability as a fullback, although he will start on the left wing against the Sharks, while Damian Willemse slots in at No 15.
Given the Sharks’ kicking game, Dobson said that he thought it a good idea to stock up on on-field fullbacks, and that includes Leyds.
“We’re aware of their (the Sharks’) kicking game, and we think they’re going to come at us with a pretty big kicking game - both contestable and distance,” Dobson said.
“So having an extra fullback on is useful. We also want to play territory, because in a final, if you play in your half against a kicker like Curwin Bosch, you’re going to be under pressure. So that gives us greater kicking options. We wanted to get our best players on the field this week.”
Leyds has shown his ability to star in a number of positions, and although he will add to Western Province’s kicking game, it’s on the wing where the creator of what can easily be declared the “offload of the decade” will shine.
Did you know? At the Western Province Rugby Union awards ceremony last month, Leyds cleaned up and walked away with three awards - the Most Valuable Player, Senior Player of the Year, as well as the Composure and Capability award.