CAPE TOWN – He has become a cult hero at the Springboks, and now Aphiwe Dyantyi is set to go global.
The 24-year-old speedster has captured the imagination of the rugby world in just nine Test matches, and has been recognised for a superb first season of Test rugby by being nominated for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year Award.
Dyantyi, who hails from Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape and attended Dale College, now stars for the Lions in domestic rugby.
But he has undergone an incredible journey from Varsity Cup rugby last year to scoring a brace against the All Blacks in that epic 36-34 victory in Wellington last month.
Dyantyi has dotted down six times in his nine Tests, and has become a Bok hero for his thrilling runs and fearless tackles – including the decisive one against New Zealand when he knocked the ball out of the hands of Damian McKenzie.
And whenever he scores, he pulls out the famous ‘Wakanda’ celebration.
The other nominees are All Black prop Karl Tu’inukuafe and Ireland wing Jordan Larmour.
The judging panel include former internationals Jamie Heaslip, Felipe Contepomi and Phaidra Knight, along with members of the media.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement: “The World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award recognises the most exciting talent to burst onto the international 15s or sevens stage during the year and highlights the ‘ones to watch’.
“There were several outstanding candidates and the process of whittling the selection down to a shortlist was tough for the panel. We have three outstanding candidates, who would be worthy recipients of this prestigious award.”
Previous winners include England lock Maro Itoje, and All Black stars Rieko Ioane and Nehe Milner-Skudder.
Three brilliant players have been nominated for World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year 2018 in association with Tudor. pic.twitter.com/OBzhqbCrPZ
The winner will be named at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on November 25.
Before that, Dyantyi will get another chance to impress the judges as the Boks take on England, France, Scotland and Wales from November 3.