Aphiwe Dyantyi is hoping to get back to his try scoring ways. Photo: Jeremy Ward/www.photosport.nz
Aphiwe Dyantyi hit Super Rugby with such a bang last year that it was always going to be difficult to follow it up with an equally destructive campaign this season.

Call it “second season syndrome” if you want, but the Lions winger hasn’t found the going as easy as he did a year ago when he literally exploded onto the international rugby stage.

Dyantyi scored sensational try after sensational try, he found gaps where there were none, and his pace and step left defenders searching Google in their spare time to find out just who this new hotshot 23-year-old was?

History tells us Dyantyi went on to become a Springbok and also won the World Rugby award for breakthrough player of 2018.

This year has not been nearly as prolific. He has nursed a few injuries, shifted between wing and outside centre, and the tries just haven’t come as easily. But it’s not something that concerns the star wing.

“Having made a bit of noise last year, more teams would have taken notice of me this season,” said Dyantyi yesterday.

“But the focus shouldn’t be on me; there are 14 other guys on the field with me. If we’re doing well as a team then that’s great. It’s as a collective that we must do well; that’s what it’s about - as long as we get the result, get the wins, and get the consistency going.”

One of last year’s try machines has just a handful of five-pointers this year, the last coming against the Waratahs at Ellis Park last weekend when he ran an excellent line and took an inside pass from Elton Jantjies to score under the poles.

He said the one-point win against the men from Sydney had been a crucial one, coming after the Lions’ three-week tour of Australasia and following their bye weekend.

“Like any victory, we’ll take it,” he said about the edge-of-the-seat 29-28 win. “It is wins like those that certainly bolster the confidence, and it will also help us build a bit at this critical time of the season.

“We’ll take any positives from the game forward, and hopefully they’ll stand us in good stead in the coming weeks. I think in parts last weekend we showed what kind of team we are.”

The Lions go into Saturday’s clash with the Highlanders (3pm) having played 11 matches and won six. They’re fourth in the congested five-team SA Conference.

“The rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand will always be there and that’s the case for the Super Rugby teams too. It’s going to be a big one this weekend, a good contest,” said Dyantyi.

Meanwhile, Lions captain Warren Whiteley didn’t train with his teammates on Monday or yesterday because of a bruised knee and a call on his availability to play this weekend will be taken later in the week. Whiteley has featured in just four of his team’s 11 matches.


The Star

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