Sitting on the sidelines after going on paternity leave gave star Stormers loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani a different and fresh perspective, which made him hungrier than ever to produce for the Cape side.
Dayimani, 26, recently became a father, and celebrated that milestone and his return to the starting line-up in the United Rugby Championship (URC) with a vital win over Zebre in Stellenbosch last weekend.
The versatile loose forward was his exciting self in that 31-7 victory, and rejoined a loose trio that helped the Stormers win the URC in its first season.
Star No 8 Evan Roos was the only one of the title-winning loose trio present on the four-week European trip, while veteran Deon Fourie had a well-deserved break after clinching the World Cup with the Springboks, and Dayimani was back home with his family.
Reignite the spark
But they are eager to reignite the spark in the loose trio to help their side find some momentum ahead of some crucial games in the URC and Champions Cup.
The Stormers are currently in England as they prepare to face Leicester Tigers in their opening Champions Cup match on Sunday (5.15pm kick-off, SA time) at Welford Road.
“The band is back! It’s been a long time since all three of us have played together,” said Dayimani on his reunion with Roos and Fourie.
“Now, we’re just trying to be in tune. It’s something we’re speaking about at training and trying to find ways on how we can click again.
“It’s going to be a good challenge, especially with how the other loose trios are playing, but we definitely want to come out on top.”
Dayimani said they are bracing for the challenge and conditions they will encounter in Leicester.
They did not have any success on their European tour and lost all four of their matches in the URC, but the Champions Cup presents a new opportunity for the side to gain some confidence on the road.
But in foreign conditions and expected inclement weather, and against a star-studded Tigers side, it will be a tough encounter, especially against the likes of Bok No 8 Jasper Wiese and former Bulls loose forward Hanro Liebenberg.
Dayimani said they will have to adjust to anything that will be asked of them on Sunday afternoon.
‘Have to be on your A-game’
“It’s time to adapt and ensure we get our plan out there. To win this competition, you have to be on your A-game and not use weather as an excuse. For us, it will be about not trying to play their game, and emphasising our type of rugby,” he said.
“I’m just grateful to be back, having not played for four weeks, and I just had to hit the ground running, and it was exciting for me. I’ve missed it, and look forward to playing many more games with the guys.
“Every game I’m just trying to get better and adding a new variation to my game, and I’m just grateful I can do it with the Stormers.
“It’s getting tough from now on, especially the upcoming games, so I just want to be consistent.
“The Champions Cup is a different kind of competition – it’s high stakes, high pressure and short turnarounds. Every game and every point matters.”