CAPE TOWN – Why is Dillyn Leyds still a sidelined Springbok?
If none of his other Super Rugby performances until now have proven his quality, then his one last week sure did.
Despite disappointing outings against the Hurricanes, Blues and Reds in the preceding weeks, the Stormers produced an all-around effort to claim an emphatic 41-24 win over the Rebels last Friday. The performance of their outside backs was particularly pleasing. They were outstanding. And given how uninvolved they were the week before, well, it looked even better.
Often times when the Stormers backline created fire, Leyds was the match.
His opening try was hot. And while causing half of the Rebels’ defence to change direction as he stepped and sprinted past them might have been impressive for some players, it was nothing extraordinary by his standards.
You just couldn’t miss the opportunities he created when he came in at first receiver. Magic happened.
Aside from his own score, he set up two more, while he also beat eight defenders and made 68 metres. Again, nothing unusual there.
His form has been typical Leyds all season. And he should be in the Bok mix.
The way he can ignite a spark at the back is something special.
He has been devastating for many a season, and imagine what he can add to a Bok backline, even off the bench.
Need someone to create something quickly? There he is. Someone to help the transition from defence to offence turn into a wow moment with counter-attacking brilliance? He is your man. Someone to do the finishing himself? That’s him.
He has done it in a Stormers jersey many times, and he can gift the Boks the same. He just needs the chance.
His last appearance in a Springbok jumper was in 2017, a time when the Boks showed no direction or plan, performances were mostly poor and Leyds – on the wing – saw very little ball.
South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has never been too tight-lipped when it’s come to discussing his options in different positions. But there has been precious little mention of Leyds in any of those talks, if any.
He missed out entirely last year as he didn’t make the training camp squads or a single Test.
Last season was important for World Cup reasons, so the fact that Leyds didn’t play a part then doesn’t bode well. But that doesn’t mean it’s all over.
Erasmus has also said, however, that the door isn’t closed on those he hasn’t yet involved. So maybe Leyds is one of those who can sneak through that opportunity left ajar.
Back in 2016, options at No 15 were limited. Local fullbacks weren’t giving Allister Coetzee the good kind of selection dilemmas and Andries Coetzee got the nod.
Loose ball is hacked ahead by the Rebels and picked up by Dillyn Leyds who dances through a gap and then puts the foot down to go over for the firt try. That puts DHL Stormers 7-0 up after 5 mins in Melbourne. #REBvSTO #iamastormer
— DHL STORMERS (@THESTORMERS) April 12, 2019
In 2019 it’s different.
Erasmus has been open about his fullback plan with Damian Willemse, and there is also Warrick Gelant and Curwin Bosch (seeing as that’s his primary position at the Sharks) who are talking points on the SA rugby scene.
All of those players’ possess talent and quality that cannot be doubted.
But so does Leyds.
Leyds is an attacking catalyst. And even while the Stormers’ season so far hasn’t proven to be way different from their recent ones yet (it certainly started better, though), you can always find a positive from Leyds.
Leyds is fire.
And it’s time he gets a chance to spark the Boks.