CAPE TOWN – Du'Plessis Kirifi. That’s quite a name, isn’t it?
And what a moment it was when the 21-year-old Hurricanes debutant - who was named after former Springbok captain and loose forward Morne du Plessis - came on late in the Hurrricanes’ Super Rugby opener against the Waratahs and scored the try that snatched victory from the Aussies’ hands.
But seeing that name was a big deal even without the match-winning try.
It sure made for a good bonus, though. After all, how many Kiwis do you know with a name like that?
Yeah, the way in which the Waratahs blew their chance of winning their Super Rugby opener against the 'Canes last weekend was a massive moment in its own right at Brookvale Oval.
‘Tahs and Wallaby pivot Bernard Foley will certainly want to forget the penalty kick he pulled past the right-hand upright from right in front with two minutes to go after his side had won a scrum penalty.
It was the kind of oops the opposition would hope for but wouldn’t really expect, especially as Foley had been successful with all five of his previous kicks at goal.
That was quite a moment - not a good one for the Australian side, but it certainly was a moment.
But back to Kirifi’s moment.
He came on, and with five minutes to go before the final whistle, he helped the 'Canes overcome a stuttering performance and grab a 20-19 win over the Waratahs.
With the pressure telling, Kirifi smashed his way over the try-line after a line-out maul for his maiden Super Rugby try.
Of Samoan descent, Kirifi’s father was a fan (clearly) of the former Western Province loose forward who captained the Springboks to a series win over the All Blacks in South Africa in 1976.
The fact that the former World Cup-winning Bok team manager - who led the Boks to 12 victories in 15 matches - didn’t play one of his 22 Tests in New Zealand tells a story of its own about the impact Du Plessis made on Kirifi’s father, who played more than 100 matches for Ponsonby in New Zealand.
Kirifi signed a two-year deal with the Hurricanes last year after playing for the Chiefs development squad in 2017.
And in his time playing in the Mitre 10 Cup with the Wellington Lions, the fresh 'Cane showed that he knows how to use his low body position to win those important turnovers, while defence is another of his strengths, and so are his intent-filled carries.
That was only his first game with the Hurricanes, and although it was the perfect start, Kirifi still has some way to go in the rough waters of Super Rugby before he can be likened to Morne du Plessis for reasons other than his name.
Who knows how this could turn out.
He might become a legend in his own right or just help the 'Canes snatch more matches.
Either way, if he manages to build on his debut performance, he will be a rugby talking point. And not just because he’s named after the legend that is Morne du Plessis.@WynonaLouw