JOHANNESBURG - New South African rugby sensation, Aphiwe Dyantyi, said it was flattering to be compared to a “living legend” like Bryan Habana but that he’d rather write his own story.
The Springbok wing has been one of the finds of the 2018 Test season after only making his Super Rugby debut earlier this year. He scored two wonderful tries against the All Blacks when the Boks shocked the world champions 36-34 in Wellington three weeks ago and he gets another chance to show what he is made of this weekend when the Boks host the All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Dyantyi said on Thursday he was excited about the challenge but didn’t want to be compared to former Bok star Habana, who also wore the No 11 on his back. “I’ve got another opportunity to play for the Boks this weekend, a chance for me to represent my country, to grow.
“It’s honestly very flattering that some of you have compared me to Bryan ... he is a legend, he’s done it all, proved himself on the biggest stages year after year. Being compared to him is amazing, but I’m Aphiwe and I’m trying to carve my own path, make my own history. Not everyone gets a chance to be here where I am ... so I want to make sure I make every moment count.”
Habana, who played over 100 Tests for the Boks but has now retired from the game, said he, too, didn’t want to be compared with the young wing from the Lions. “He needs to create his own legacy, and he’s doing that, and that is exciting,” said Habana. “I’ve had my time. Aphiwe is doing something really special and I really hope he is well looked after and goes on to break all sorts of records.”
The flying wing has won over fans across South Africa with his speed, step and ability to read the game and has in a matter of a few Tests become a Bok hero. Habana said the 24-year-old had so much going for him.
“He’s actually got very little experience, but he’s just got it at this level. He’s got this uncanny ability to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way, he’s got a fantastic step, he’s quick and his work-rate is second to none. He’s just got a quality all-round game.”
Dyantyi also revealed the origin of his already legendary try celebration when he pulls his fingers across his chest. “Growing up I watched a lot of rugby with my brothers and saw Tana Umaga lead the haka and I marvelled at that ... there was so much passion there and I kind of took it and made it a part of me. But, I also remember watching a movie in grade seven about the Kenyan Masai tribe and how a young boy takes on a lion and wins. I drew a lot of inspiration for that, too.”
Dyantyi said Saturday’s Test – to conclude the 2018 Rugby Championship – would be massive. “It’s South Africa against New Zealand ... it doesn’t get bigger than that. New Zealand are a country built on rugby and we take just as much pride in our game here in South Africa. We’re so prepared for it; all we now need to do is play.”