Dillyn Leyds is finding the form in Super Rugby that earned him a Springbok call-up in 2017, and the Stormers left wing must feature for South Africa in the four matches leading up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Leyds was not part of coach Rassie Erasmus’ plans in 2018 when Aphiwe Dyantyi, Cheslin Kolbe, Makazole Mapimpi and S’bu Nkosi were the men entrusted out wide.
A skilful player with pace, vision and quick feet, Leyds has been backed as both a fullback and, occasionally, flyhalf for the Stormers and Western Province.
But all nine of his Bok caps under Allister Coetzee came on the wing – and it’s at left wing that Leyds has shown his ability to influence play and provide an injection of creativity for the Stormers this season.
Leyds starred in the 41-24 win over the Rebels in Melbourne, running 30 metres and beating five defenders for the opening try. His deft pass to Damian Willemse led to Juarno Augustus’ five-pointer, and he later split the Rebels defence to feed Damian de Allende for a touchdown. Leyds was also lively against the Reds and Blues in the two previous weeks.
He was man-of-the-match in the Stormers’ 24-23 victory over the Bulls, striking with lethal precision on the blindside and playing a key role in Herschel Jantjies’ try after fielding a poor exit kick before ghosting past several opposing players.
Leyds, who can be trusted under the high ball as well as to put boot to synthetic rubber, has also worked admirably on his defence and against the Hurricanes in Round 6, the 88kg speedster made a crucial touchline tackle on rampaging Kiwi behemoth, Ben Lam.
Following his breakout season in 2018, the Lions’ Dyantyi is set to retain the No 11 jersey for the Boks’ 2019 opener against the Wallabies on July 20 at Ellis Park. The Sharks’ Mapimpi, who had four tries after 11 rounds of Super Rugby this season, is the man likely to be next in line, but Leyds has given both Bok speedsters a run for their money.
The Stormers flyer’s 11 linebreaks in the competition placed him joint third with Mapimpi after 12 rounds, while Dyantyi only had five. Leyds bettered both men in runs (60), tackle breaks (25), linebreak assists (4) and offloads (8), and matched Dyantyi (2) for try assists.
Averaging 188 metres per game, Dyantyi’s kicking strength has been no match for Leyds’ 385m per game while Mapimpi has averaged 382m.
Dyantyi, who’s often guilty of ‘shooting in’ and out of line on defence, also missed 10 tackles in eight matches; Leyds and Mapimpi missed seven and five tackles in nine games respectively.
Leyds was wearing the No 11 Stormers jersey when he delivered that no-look offload to SP Marais in a 2017 Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs that came shortly before his Bok debut.
If Leyds keeps up his red-hot run in 2019, Erasmus surely won’t be able to overlook the versatile 26-year-old playmaker.
Devin Hermanus works in the SA media industry, drinks non-alcoholic beer on weekends, and never leaves home without a cellphone charger, dental floss or hand sanitizer. Follow him on Twitter: @DevinMyles11
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