CAPE TOWN - For the Springboks, the build-up to the British & Irish Lions Series has had its fair share of hiccups.
There have been the logistical issues, which have since been sorted with the confirmation that the Lions will in fact be touring South Africa. There is the ongoing push to have fans in attendance. And most recently, the talks of the Rainbow Cup not going ahead as planned with SA Super teams emerged as a stumbling block.
But there have also been some positives, one of which being the recent performances of some overseas-based South Africans. And Dillyn Leyds has shone.
The former Stormers fullback continued his solid form for French Top 14 side La Rochelle at the weekend as he scored a stunning try in an impressive 80-minute performance. It was an outing that should have at least done something to put Leyds on the Bok radar ahead of the international season.
Sure, the Boks have no shortage of back-three options, but Leyds’ latest display of skill and overall attacking brilliance was more than enough to make one hopeful that he just might have done enough to put him in consideration for national selection for the upcoming season.
Leyds, who has made 10 appearances for the Boks, owned the No 15 jersey while with the Stormers before taking his gamebreaking wizardry to France. For years he was an attacking catalyst for the Stormers and Western Province, and even during times the Cape side would rather forget, he always managed to create something out of nothing.
Before leaving for France, the creator of “that pass” in the Stormers’ Super Rugby runout against the Chiefs in April 2017 said that when people hear his name, they don’t think “Springboks”, instead, he said, they think “Stormers”. While Leyds is a Bok, he was a Province and Stormers stalwart, and that is what he was best known for.
While he so routinely impressed while in the Cape, he didn’t really get to do that as consistently for the national team, there simply haven’t been enough opportunities.
But his form in France should warrant another spell with the Boks, another chance for him to inject potency into a backline, to pull a rabbit out of a hat in broken play, to create counterattacking magic, to be ready to almost instinctively clean up whatever needs to be cleaned at the back, and to snipe through defenders like he alone got a pass to those rehearsals. And while it was mostly at fullback where Leyds treated us to superb visuals, he has done the job on the wing as well, as we’ve seen with La Rochelle.
So, while depth is no issue for the Boks when it comes to the back three, adding Leyds to the mix will present him with a chance to give fans a reason to think more than just “Stormers” when they hear his name. After all, if his productions with La Rochelle are anything to go by, we have good reason to believe that his brilliance is by no means limited to the Stormers.